Welcome to the autism 360 podcast the  360 method a weekly podcast where we  talk about everything autism 360. each  week we’ll be catching you up with  what’s going on in the program chatting  with team members and special guests and  talking all things mindset as well as  exploring relevant ideas that autism  parents think about this week I’m so  excited to chat with one of our gorgeous  OTS Andrea who’s here on the program and  she’s going to demystify the world of  occupational therapy and also share some  stories about her wins here on the  program  hi welcome everyone glad that you’ve  been join us yes  um Andrea hail’s from Sydney Australia  and has been working in occupational  therapy for 20 years  um she’s been with autism 360 for about  a year right I what I was thinking I was  like oh my gosh it’s her one year  birthday  and very soon yeah that’s what I thought  that Andrea lives with her partner two  kiddos and their dog and loves netball  and I am your host Ella Bailey I’m an  Autism 360 veteran coach and Explorer of  all things parenting support before  becoming an Autism 360 team member  I worked in psychological research and  behavioral psychology and this week is  my three-year autism 360 anniversary  I know I’ll be expecting cake  so welcome to you our lovely listeners  we’re so grateful to have you with us  and we care about your thoughts and  experiences so whether you’re a program  member or not we would love to hear from  you please do drop us a line at hello we would love your  feedback and questions and if you’ve got  more questions for Andrea well we might  just have to never again and get it back  on to answer your questions uh before we  get started  I’d like to acknowledge the gadigal and  wangle people of the eora Nation on  Whose land I live and work and from  where this podcast is being broadcast  today and also make the disclaimer that  this podcast does not substitute for  medical advice if you’re concerned about  yourself or about a loved one please do  reach out for medical support So Andrea




I’m excited to dive into the world of OT  because  sometimes it’s sometimes I’m just not  sure  you know I I feel like it people are  kind of uh not necessarily sure about  what OT is all about or what they should  be expecting so I guess we should start  at the beginning and like what Drew you  into being interested in being an OT  what’s your what’s your inspo story  ah wow  so funny that you asked because I was  always going to be a primary school  teacher right up until year 12 and then  for some reason I just thought I think  you know a few people said oh don’t do  teaching so I was like oh what else can  I do and then  OT just popped in my head and really the  only kind of exposure I’ve had to  occupational therapy was  um my dad had a car accident when I was  younger and he was in hospital he did  lots of rehab and he had an OT  and so obviously I kind of had that  context of what OT did in terms of  Rehabilitation after an accident  um and so I went in and  um yeah but then along the way I think  probably my first year at Uni I’m like  oh  wow thank you  they’re kids too well bonus there we go  I’ll do that totally so you got to have  a little column A a little a colored B  and like happy meat in the middle  Daddy I had a friend who a very talented  friend who I was at Uni with um on the  same campus and she did OT and we shared  uh I think we did human bio together in  first year like a very kind of broad  um introduction to human bio and I  remember just sort of thinking like  something something similar to Physio  I’m gonna leave it there you know  um and that was kind of my only  understanding but when do you think was  the first time that you ever really felt  the like aha this is this is my place  this is where I belong I found my thing  feeling  yeah I think  um  see when probably when I did get to do  my placement week  um when I was in uni and I did get to do  a pediatric placement I was like this is  great this is really what I want to do  um my first job was in a hospital so I  didn’t get to work in Queens straight  away just because there wasn’t any  openings but yeah kind of took the first  opportunities I’ve got to kind of move  into working in Pediatrics so I kind of  just knew that yeah that’s what I wanted  to do oh my God I don’t know I just  think kids are really cute until you  have your own and they I don’t shoot  anymore and then um the picture becomes  a bit more complicated  oh that’s amazing  um and I mean  what do you think most people think that  OT is and do you think that they’re  right well that’s the funny one I  remember at Uni having people go oh so  you’re going to become a basket Weaver  I was like like what  is that apparently that comes from back  in the war so like in the 1920s when OTS  worked with soldiers recovering from the  war  um so and one of the activities they’ve  sometimes got them to do was make  baskets and leave baskets so yes so it  comes from all the way back there so I I  don’t personally know how to weave the  basket so I’ve never learned that at you  under qualified Andrea where’s your  basket weaving skills  amazing I know I know I know so it’s  really interesting


I think OT started  off back  like in the early 1900s and they used to  work in some of the mental institutions  and it was kind of when they really  start to kind of Branch away from that  medical model and it all being about  medication and realizing that you know  like if we can keep people active and  participating in you know daily routines  having Leisure Pursuits quality of life  that actually made their recovery better  so yeah so it’s really interesting so  initially OT kind of started in the TV  the tuberculosis  sanatorium when people were kind of  isolated to those you know hospitals to  recover oh I didn’t know that yeah yeah  soldiers after the war and then it’s  just branched out and I think the  problem might so hard for people to  kind of Define what OT uses it’s very  very broad yes so depending on where  you’re coming contact with the Note 3 is  usually kind of what you think so they  do obviously aged Care Mental Health  they’ll even do workplace assessments  return to work half the people have had  workplace injuries and accidents  Rehabilitation and then obviously with  children  um so I think the thing that draws all  of those different things together is  this idea that  um  that whatever you do so your occupation  which for a child would be  play would be maybe being a student once  they get to school might be learning  might be being a friend  being a sibling being a  child so a son daughter so that that’s  really valuable and really important and  that idea that people can succeed and  have Mastery and feel like I’m doing a  good job I can do this I can be  independent I can succeed but that’s so  good for their mental as well as their  physical and emotional health  so I think that is kind of the  underpinning of whatever area you’re in  is that functioning in life whatever you  choose to do in your role whether it be  work Leisure hobbins that you can do  that  achievement and enjoyment from that yeah  amazing I love the idea that like a  child’s occupation is play play totally  it’s totally play I love that like  that’s their main job  yeah  yeah I think it’s a shame that you know  we sometimes push the academic so early  in schooling and I know other countries  like Sweden don’t do that you know they  wait till the children are seven before  they hit four more schooling so I think  as much as we can if we can keep  learning fun and play based yeah it’s um  yeah so I think not again with kids it’s  very buried but we’ll come back to okay  what’s really important for that child  and that’s their family where do they  want to get success and answer story  um and it can be things like you know  play some of some children like autistic  children that won’t come naturally to  them  um and obviously learning how to play  alongside play with children  um learning how to do and participate in  some of the self-care tasks  um then kind of being able to  participate at school so  um yeah lots of people will kind of see  will kind of say oh so you work on  handwriting that’s another one I get a  lot so I’m like oh yeah we do if it’s  important I don’t always feel like it’s  necessarily the most important thing but  obviously if it helps the child  participate at school then sure we’ll  we’ll look at that so we kind of look at  the physical motor stuff like you know  can they physically do a task how can  you make it easier but we also look at  the sensory aspect  um and the kind of cognitive aspect like  learning memory retention processing  that kind of thing so um and really we  work with it we work as a team so it’s  really important because obviously  speeches and psychologists bring so much  to the table as well so I think if you  can work in a team and work with the  family because basically your parents  are the experts you know your child in  and out  um I see them maybe once an hour once a  week and you’re with them all day every  day  absolutely and I think that’s something  that I see a lot when parents come to us  they’re sort of very  um and by us I mean the kind of autism  360


clinicians they’re very they very much  you know will come to us for answers and  and be wanting us to help them problem  solve and then by the end they’re kind  of understanding so much more themselves  they feel so much more like they can  problem solve independently around their  kids needs I love seeing that sort of  thing you’re right it’s about teamwork  But ultimately like parents and carers  they know what they’re they know what’s  up yeah yeah absolutely speaking of  parents and carers I’m so I love hearing  like people’s success stories do you  have any like  any good ones that you want to share any  um any successes from the program of  clients you’ve had  wow yeah I was thinking about this  lovely little boy and  he said that I’ve been working with  um and I just think they have just made  phenomenal progress like it’s just so  lovely and I was just saying to the mum  yesterday you know like it’s because you  really she takes on board ideas  and she just runs with it and we talk a  bit about like a brainstorming and then  she’ll kind of pick what she thinks  might work for him you know so we’ve  actually worked through like kind of  like a bit of a spectrum of things so we  started off working like around  emotional regulations  so being able to identify and  communicate like his feelings and what  you know what he was feeling  um and then we kind of worked on also  kind of managing the emotions kind of  next so once we can kind of identify and  um so he had great success with you know  the um Carmen cars  would go and do it together  um so that worked really really well  um and I think  um mums learn heaps of ways to kind of  avoid  you know those triggers  and really manage from such an early the  Early answer  so I mean that’s always wonderful isn’t  it yeah oh my gosh preventatives I love  that and sort of  um things proactive rather than reactive  regulatory strategies are just  chef’s kiss  so so good and this little boy wouldn’t  let mum ever kind of go anywhere  um on his own on her own so he would  always have to go mum couldn’t pop to  the shop  and we’ve worked on some separation  strategies  and he just really took that idea of the  invisible strength  and it really worked for him and just  gradually gradually gradually that’s  really become so much easier mum can pop  to the shop and go and get things where  you can be dad or Grandma I mean how  many friends that can kind of make to  your life quality of life isn’t it it’s  quality of life Improvement and that’s  just makes my heart sing  absolutely I remember I had sent a  client to you and this client was  struggling I think with some core  stability issues and you suggested a  bunch of fun play-based  um like swinging type activities and  those sorts of things and oh my gosh did  that family take that and run with it  and our little kiddo was struggling to  be able to do full days at school  um because his core was weakening and he  was getting really tired and starting to  stumble it was affecting his gate kind  of later in the day but they’ve been so  good with the the exercises that you  gave them that he’s now back up to full  five days at school I know  yes and he loves school and he was you  know he was bummed out that he couldn’t  make it the whole day and and be with  his friends and those sorts of things  and now he’s he’s doing full things  I know I know it’s really really good  I’m so delighted for them  totally  [Music]  it’s just it’s so good isn’t that when  you can kind of make make a real lasting  shift yeah that kind of really helps the  child do something that they want to do  or  um so good so good and again it’s that  like what’s important to that child like  what’s their occupation and his  occupation is he wants to be at school  with his friends like being engaged with  his life  tea  dead heroes and I have this really  interesting question  um from a listener who I thought  um could benefit from your wisdom and  her name is Esther she’s from Perth and  she says my child’s OT just plays games  with them there isn’t much time to get  updates after session and I’m not sure  what we’re achieving in these sessions  how can I tell if my child is making  progress in these sessions  good one right I feel like I’ve heard  that before as well yes  yes I have and different versions of  that  so look I think seriously at a way to  kind of say to that look  ot’s do use a lot of games and play  because  um that’s a fun way to help children  engage in learning new skills  particularly that might be hard for them  so


children are much more likely to to  practice this skill learn a new skill if  it’s presented in a fun way  so that’s definitely a big strategy  because if the child doesn’t want to  come  um doesn’t want to practice then we’re  not going to make much progress so games  are great  right  um but also I think that  um  that communication with the therapist is  so important so what I would recommend  um would be to have a conversation with  the therapist and just kind of say look  um is there an opportunity that we can  catch up and do I used to call them like  um a parent only session right and it  could be just in place of your child  fashion just say look one week can I do  a catch up with you instead of your  usual session with my child can we do a  catch up where we just talk about  progress where my child got how things  are going what can I do at home because  I really feel that is where  and Improvement happen  so yeah you could do that monthly you  could do that once a term  um twice a year you could just say look  can we allocate the first 15 minutes or  the last 15 minutes to a parent chat  sometimes that can be hard when the  child’s present  um so that’s why sometimes it can be  good to just do it in place of if you  can get a babysitter for your child or  leave them at school rather than take  them early and have a chat I think it’s  really really important that you  understand the why  so talk about your goals because you  know sometimes  um you know your therapist might be  working on handwriting that you’re  having major issues taking your child to  the shops or getting your child to go to  bed  and you need to communicate back to your  therapist and make sure they know what  you want to work on like you know I  think it’s really important that you set  goals together with your therapist so  this is and that’s how you know you’re  making progress which is the other  element of this question you know so I  think if you can really establish a goal  together find out okay what’s happening  now  and how do I want it to be improved so  um it might be you want to see a  reduction in tantrum it might be you  want to see your child allow you to  brush their teeth  um and then you can really kind of then  see if that functional skill is  improving because OT should really be  about function like something that you  can see improving and then you can kind  of go oh wow we only had two meltdowns  or two Tantrums this week instead of ten  or my child every second night my  child’s letting me brush his teeth then  you know you’re making progress so it’s  those kind of things  um yeah and yeah so I really think have  a good chat about it so that the goal is  clear and measure you know that pre and  that post right we’re going to do a term  of  OT  maybe you want to see the handwriting  the more legible okay well what would  that look like will it have spaces  between the words well the letters sit  on the line things that you can see and  then at the end of the block you go okay  let’s have a look at the handwriting and  oh wow look I’ve got 10 spaces in my  page instead of Narnia you can then  measure the progress which I think you  you need to do and ndis wants to see  that as well you know that’s really  important progress towards your goals  otherwise you do you need to rethink if


this therapy is working for your child  if they’re making any progress and if  not then looking at a different style of  occupational therapy and you know trying  someone else to see if it fits better  yeah yeah totally and I think something  that you that you touched on there is  sort of  um again brings us back to quality of  life like yes you might be working to  improve your handwriting say but if your  OT doesn’t know that oh actually we’re  having more struggles with actually  getting kid to school  um then that’s gonna be a much big have  a much bigger impact on your quality of  life if your OT can help you work on  that but they can’t know that unless  um you know parents and carers really  reach out and carve a Communication  channel that works for both parties  um yeah yeah yeah and it could be I mean  it could be email even you know totally  have to talk to your therapist  um I know they’re busy but um you can  just say like you know let’s do 45  minute sessions  yeah absolutely half an hour with  sessions and then can you allocate that  extra time to answering my emails or  having a phone call with me  um yeah exactly I think they really do  need to know really all those things you  won’t know unless you ask them if they  can help you with it totally behavior  issues at home they might go oh wow I  think that sense three related I think I  can help you with that and if not they  might point you in the direction of  something for someone else yes yes  absolutely I hope that’s helpful Esther  um if it is get in touch  um if it isn’t get in touch and we can  brainstorm again  um but Andrea I’ve got to let you go  you’re a busy woman  but thank you for coming and chatting  with me I appreciate your time is there  some like  I don’t know maybe some key points or  um anything you would like to emphasize  for our for our wonderful listeners  well I just think  to like ask a question I think the best  thing is to you know really engage with  your therapist  um think of it as a partnership you know  where you can both give and take like  and think about communicating goals to  them that are really going to make the  biggest difference in your and your  child’s life  um and work just really on small steps  you know it only has to be small steps  that you make towards those things that  are going to make a big difference  whether that be self-care skills or  emotional regulation  um and that little bit of practice try  and ask them for things that you can do  in your everyday activities so that it’s  not an extra job for you to do but there  might be something that you can do while  you’re driving in the car or while  you’re eating having dinner or while  they’re playing outside in the backyard  if there’s something


else that you can  include that will help reach towards you  all  yeah I love that idea it’s so much more  sustainable isn’t it to embed it within  your family’s current routine then  trying to add something into lives that  are already pretty busy  and just remember that you’re the one if  the parent that’s going to make the  biggest difference in your child’s life  and you know your child’s there so  go for it you can make the difference  yes how good is that thank you so much  yes to you Andrea and thank you to our  lovely listeners for tuning in this week  we’ll be back next week uh with another  um episode  um with uh another interesting guest  um so thank you uh so much again to  Andrea for coming  um and until then I hope you bring the  progress home

Demystifying OT with Andrea
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Demystifying OT with Andrea
This week, Ella talks all things Occupational Therapy with Senior OT Andrea Barrett from the Autism360 clinical team. Ella and Andrea unpack the confusion around what OTs do and give lots of strategies for parent questions as well as sharing stories of Andrea's amazing program clients.
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Autism 360
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