Parenting doesn’t come with a handbook and anyone who has ever been a parent or acted as a caregiver to a child, knows that it is not easy negotiating the many needs of a child from the moment they are born.
Connecting Together is a relatively new Occupational therapy community service/private practice providing care, intervention, therapy and guidance to children and families in the Franklin area. It is the brainchild of Melissa Walker-Tate, a registered Occupational Therapist who has vast experience working in the health care system with children at all stages of their development.
“I noticed while working in the health care system, that there is a real need for a programme in Franklin that assists children as they prepare for the transition into primary school. I set up Connecting Together because with the early intervention of some of the fundamentals of Occupational Therapy this transition can be made so much easier for children who otherwise might struggle in their early school years.”
Occupational therapy helps and supports children to develop the underlying skills needed for a child’s learning and in performing specific tasks, while also focusing on addressing social and behavioural skills. The programmes developed by Melissa at Connecting together focus on achieving functional independence through therapeutic interventions, including activities someone wants, needs and must do in their daily life. For children, this functional independence can be gained through play.
Children progress in their early years rapidly though a number of important milestones. Every child progresses differently, but it is usually parents and or caregivers that are the first to suspect that this development is hindered in some way. If your child’s progress is concerning you, then Melissa recommends seeking support as early as possible.
“As a registered Occupational Therapist, it is my job to help children to develop the basic sensory awareness and strategies to regulate themselves in their developmental stage of life, focusing on learning healthy behaviours. I often see families who have concerns about their child’s poor coordination, gross motor skills, who have challenges learning new things or a reluctance to use a pencil or avoid fine motor development activities like puzzles. At Connecting Together, we work with everyone in the family to educate, share, reinforce and provide specific changes to the child, their routine, environment to ensure the most effective change.”
The support that an Occupational Therapist can give can be as simple as mastering an age appropriate skill, or an in-depth strategy, assessment and intervention recommendation if appropriate. Melissa has an exceptional working knowledge of the health system and can assist where necessary across a wide spectrum of services.
Please get in touch with Melissa if you feel your child needs support in any of the following areas:
- Poor coordination
- Decreased balance (“clumsiness”)
- Delayed motor skill development
- Low muscle tone or strength
- Difficulty with handwriting
- Difficulty or avoidance engaging in fine motor tasks, e.g. puzzles, playdough
- Challenges in learning new skills
- Difficulties recalling information
- Struggles to remember and follow through on instructions given to them
- Difficulty completing tasks that seem easily attained by peers
- Behavioural or social skill challenges
- Difficulty maintaining attention
- Decreased self-esteem and self-concept
- Decreased visual skills including visual perceptual skills and ocular motor skills
- Difficulties with feeding, is a picky eater or a messy eater
- Challenges performing self-care tasks, e.g. toileting, eating or sleeping.