Traditionally, Occupational therapists treat children 1-2 times per week over a long-term, oftentimes for years.
Research from the SPD Foundation indicates that children actually benefit more from intensive blocks of treatment. This is the chosen model of treatment at Lucy Miller’s STAR centre in Denver, Colorado. I am a huge FAN of this model.
For the past several years, I have also been doing more intensive blocks of sessions followed by a break, and then another intensive block. The frequency of the intensives vary based on the individual child and family’s circumstances, however they can for example run from 2-4 times per week over a 3-5 week period. Children then have a break for 1-3 months followed by another intensive block of treatment. The break is a fantastic time for children’s to solidify their new skills and integrate them into daily life. During this break, kids often participate in their favourite activities whether it is going to the park, swimming, horseback riding, learning to ride a bike, cooking or having play dates.
Personally, this model of treatment has been beneficial in my clinic for many reasons:
- Due to the plasticity of the child’s brain, kids are making faster progress and skills are integrating better
- Less burn-out from therapy and kids are excited to come to OT
- For school aged children, intensive blocks can take place during holidays and half-term breaks
- Families from out-of-town or overseas can access services
- Parents find it encouraging that they can do other fun activities with their kids during the breaks and continue to see progress