Occupational Therapy

The Occupation of Living

Last week I attended a webinar on Occupational Therapy in Adoption through the Adoptive Families Association of BC (AFABC).

Before attending the webinar I didn’t really know what an Occupational Therapist (OT) did, or that they also worked with children and not just adults.

I had thought that an “Occupational” Therapist only worked with those of us who had a job…or an “occupation”.

But the title Occupational Therapist comes from the notion that they support the “occupation” of living.

The Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists defines the role this way:

“Occupational therapy is the art and science of enabling engagement in everyday living, through occupation; of enabling people to perform the occupations that foster health and well-being; and of enabling a just and inclusive society so that all people may participate to their potential in the daily occupations of life.”
(Townsend & Polatajko, 2007, p. 372)

What I learned from this webinar in relation to how an OT may be able to help my future children…

Typically, an OT will work with children who have the following diagnosis:

  • Autism
  • Brain injuries (including temporary injuries such as concussion)
  • Anorexia
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • ADD & ADHD
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Sensory Processing Disorders
  • Developmental Coordination Disorder
  • Developmental Delays
  • FASD
  • Juvenile Arthritis
  • etc…

However, they are not restricted to working only with children who have a diagnosis, they also work with children who need assistance in other ways including (but not limited to):

  • Motor skills and coordination
  • Speech assistance
  • Toileting
  • All eating disorders
  • Sleep disorders, or interrupted sleep patterns
  • Trauma
  • Grief and loss
  • Learning difficulties
  • Transitions
  • Hoarding
  • Playing with others

There is no requirement to have a referral to an OT, however, if the OT time is to be claimed against health insurance (which is possible) then a referral may be required by your insurance provider. Be sure to check.

One thing that did impress me about how an OT works is that they get into “spaces” with the child. That is, rather than taking a child once a week to an office where the therapist talks with the child or plays with the child in that environment, an OT will come to the child and observe and interact with them in their own environment.

At School:

The OT will go to the school, observe the child in the classroom, during recess and lunch, while they are eating, and while they are doing activities. They will watch how they interact with other children, or with equipment, or with authority figures. They will also interview the teachers and support staff to gain a perspective from those who interact with the child daily.

Note: “At School” includes playgroup or daycare. Yes, I was surprised to learn that an OT will work with children of pre-school age.

At Home:

They talk with the parents or caregivers. They will come into your home, observe the child in their home environment. Watch them as they do the tasks that they may be having troubles with, or watch them before and after the task that is causing trouble to assess what might be the problem or trigger.

They will also sometimes ask the parents to record a video of the problems (such as tantrums, or difficulties with motor skills, or problems eating…) so that the OT can observe the incident as it happens.

At Leisure, or outside of school & home:

For example: at dance classes, or outside the home sporting activities, etc. They meet the child wherever the child is showing that they need assistance.

After Assessment:

Once their assessment has been completed, they make recommendations for change and growth. They recommend and implement strategies to help the child improve and to help the family support the child through the improvement and beyond.

These recommendations are as varied as the child and tailored to each specific child’s needs.

They may include things like:

  • physical aids such as wheelchairs, or walking/sitting/standing aids
  • games and play therapies to increase fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, gain strength or stability in the body,
  • helping kids with social skills, learning how to talk with others, to interact positively, and share,
  • teach children about tolerance, and safety,
  • help them learn new ways to succeed at daily tasks such as eating, brushing teeth, dressing, toileting,
  • teaching a child how to control emotions, anger management, and to self-regulate,
  • teaching a child boundaries, how to set them and how to accept them,
  • helping a child with transitions both in the daily sense, and the broader adoption sense,
  • provide access to tools that will assist within the classroom,
  • setting up strategies for the parents to continue the strides made with all of the above in the daily tasks, routines, transitions, etc.

How to choose an OT?

The webinar host recommended asking some qualifying questions of a potential OT before you bring that person into the child’s life. Such as, years of experience, have they worked with children who had…(this issue)…before? What training have they completed since becoming an OT? Are they up to date on new understandings?

And of course cost. We were informed this is somewhere between $100-140 per hour (not including travel time).

An OT may be covered by the Post Adoption Assistance Program for those of us who are creating families through adoption.

While the webinar only went for 1 hour and a lot of time was taken in talking about what an OT does and the qualifications they have, I was still quite surprised to learn what they do and how thorough they are in their assessments.

For me, to have someone come into my child’s environment to observe, assess, and make recommendations, rather than me take them to an ‘out of their environment’ room to be assessed seems like a great idea.

Consulting an OT is definitely something I would consider should my child need support in any of the ways listed or if a doctor/therapist/school recommended it.

Thank you to the AFABC for providing this informative webinar and getting the word out there about the assistance that an OT could provide.

Have you used an OT before? How did you (and your child) find the experience?

Warm smiles and Love,

Ali Jayne :)


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My mom

The-desire-to-adopt-inMy Mom (or mum, where I grew up)

So I have been thinking a little about my mom lately, she has popped into my mind a few times in the last couple of weeks and each time I think about writing to her again.

But, what to say?

She hasn’t responded to the last three cards (with enclosed letters) I’ve sent.

In fact, we haven’t spoken since the “India fiasco” of 2013. (Too much of a story to write for you here, but it may appear in the memoir Mother, My.) Though, full-disclosure, I may have received a birthday card that same year from her but I am not certain…it’s been a long time.

The last words I said verbally to her were “you are making me feel so angry right now” followed by a hang up of the phone.

Right now those words send little rivers of silent tears down my cheeks to pool just under my chin. I hope that her sometimes addled mind has forgotten those words and remembers instead kinder words from a different time. Continue reading

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Be My Parent – Matching Event


Saturday, I attended my second adoption matching event.

This event was smaller and more intimate than the last one I attended.

In the entry foyer there were refreshments and pastries and a video running on a loop from the Dave Thomas Foundation reminding us all that “unadoptable is unacceptable”.

Inside the main room there were separate stations consisting of poster boards and laptops that ran a slideshow of the children being profiled at that station.

However, there were only 11 stations, with a total of 13 children profiled. Two of the stations profiled a sibling group of two.

I have to admit I was equally disappointed in the number of children profiled and grateful for the opportunity to see even 13 profiles with photos and information. Continue reading

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My evening as a sitter

Last week I babysat for two wonderful kids, a boy aged 7, and a girl aged 4 (nearly 5 – as she told me all night!).

It’s been about 5 years since I babysat kids that age.

I arrived at 5pm and the kids were hiding in the closet…playing of course! I brought pizza with me and that lured them out as it is one of their favourite foods! (good choice!) Continue reading

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Adoptive Parents Support Groups

Although I am not yet an adoptive parent, I knew that as a single mom I would need the support of good people in my community. And even more so as a single mom to a ‘child from hard places’, as Dr Karyn Purvis would say, I would need support from people who understand adoption.

There was no support group in the town where I live, but there were many adoptive and pre-adoptive parents – both in my town and the surrounding areas.

So I created an online Facebook group for adoptive parents in our local area, and it has blossomed into a support group both online and in person.

The first two in-person gatherings last year were small affairs, with only seven adults and three children at the first one, and five adults and three children at the second.

We had the third get-together on Sunday and there were 11 adults and seven children! Continue reading

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Adoption Resource Exchange

Last week I wrote a post in response to the Global News Unfiltered report about the BC Government’s consideration of an “Alberta-style” website being opened up to the general public showcasing children waiting for adoption.

Further to that I have spent time this week trying to gain information about the Adoption Resource Exchange that was mentioned in the interview and was suggested to be an existing site in BC for adoptive parents by invitation only.

Now perhaps it was wishful thinking on my part, as there was no actual mention of this being a “site” just that it was a resource open to approved parents by invitation. However, as the news report was about a website being created for the general public, it stood to reason that the resource mentioned was also a website.

As soon as I heard about this resource open to approved parents by invitation I emailed my social worker to ask her for more information and to get an invitation. Continue reading

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Adoption reform – please give us access!

I-am-so-selfsufficientThis news report by Global News has been shared across Facebook this week.

The report is about how Alberta has a website that is accessible to the general public and profiles the harder to place children in an effort to attract the right families.

This has been a successful website for the last 12 years (!) in Alberta and has resulted in many of the children profiled being placed, or many new applications from potential parents being matched with other children waiting for homes. The report states that Alberta has also been profiling a child each week on TV in their Wednesday’s Child program for the past 32 years!

The BC Ministry for Child and Family Development  (MCFD) is currently considering Continue reading

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The Sainthood of Adoption



“Virtuous Person: a particularly good or holy person, or one who is exceptionally kind and patient in dealing with difficult people or situations.”

Sometimes I find it difficult to talk about adoption in public situations, with acquaintances, or people that I meet at a social gathering.

I feel uncomfortable with the “sainthood” with which they bestow upon me.

Comments like:

  • “Wow, that’s such an amazing thing you are doing.”
  • “It’s so wonderful that you feel able to give homes to children who need it.”
  • “What a great thing you are doing for those kids.”
  • “You are such a good person.”
  • “Those kids will be so lucky to have you.”
  • “You are so brave.”
  • “I could never do what you’re doing.”
  • “They deserve a good home.”

I realise these are all well-intentioned, well-meaning comments. I realise that it’s a different, uncommon topic that comes up and most people just frankly don’t know what to say. I understand where the comments come from… Continue reading

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Celebration of Life

I went to a Celebration of Life this past weekend.

My friend’s husband went to sleep one night and did not wake up. He was in his 40’s and she is in her 30’s.

Listening to his closest friends and his family talking about the man he was in life and the man he was to them individually was deeply moving.

It made me think about the shortness of life, the fragility, the necessity to seize every moment and make it the best you can make it.

The time we have on this earth is, for the most part, unknown.

Some people choose their exit consciously, sure, but most of us go along in our day-to-day business as though we have unlimited time.

And even when we’re aware that our time is getting shorter – such as reaching a milestone age like: 30, or 40, or 50, or 60, and so on, we still feel that our time is at least more than today, more than tomorrow, more than this week, or this month, or this year.

The result is we live life accordingly, as though Continue reading

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Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

I feel as though I’ve been gone from this blog forever…. I’m sorry for the disappearance… or is that avoidance?

My greatest indicator that I’m not feeling myself, or terribly positive, is when I shy away from the truest part of myself… my writing.

It hasn’t just been my blog…but my journal entries too. There were days over the Christmas/New Year break where I didn’t even turn on my computer, let alone write something… that is about as “depressed” as I get.

Writing is by far my happiest place. I write daily, whether it be a journal entry, a blog post, an article, or a heartfelt email to a friend. So to not do it for days on end… that’s when I know something is up with me. And it shows in my overall attitude toward life.

December used to be my favourite month, especially since I moved to Canada with winter in December and the added possibility of snow… Continue reading

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