Occupational therapist will also educate the parents and show them how to apply what they learn in occupational therapy at home

Cookeville Regional Medical Center’s Outpatient Rehabilitation Center offers a specialty in autism for patients in the Upper Cumberland region.

Kayla Sircy, MS, pediatric occupational therapist at CRMC, is now an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) clinical specialist after completing extensive continuing education on the most up-to-date, evidence-based and neuro-affirming strategies to help individuals with ASD meet therapy goals and develop relationships, trust, acceptance, self-advocacy and safety.

The Autism Spectrum Disorder specialty helps patients who may have fine motor or visual motor delays.

“These kids do not need to be fixed. They just learn differently. I love finding out how each child processes information differently and being able to navigate new tasks with them,” said Sircy.

When patients begin working with an ASD clinical specialist, they explore different motor and visual skills that may impact everyday tasks. After assessing the skills, the therapist fine-tunes a customized plan for them to be able to complete a series of tasks. Each patient receives a plan of care with goals for six months to a year, and then they are reevaluated every six months to measure their progress.

“I help them prepare for daily living activities like dressing themselves and eating independently, along with social and emotional regulation,” said Sircy. “With the reevaluation, we are looking for successes and those could be small, like a child sitting at the table who is able to tend to one task for five minutes, but small success shows us progress.”

Sircy wants their session to be fun and enjoyable, too.

“We like to get kids moving by going down a slide or running through an obstacle course, then use the rest of the time to work on writing or other special skills,” said Sircy.

During your session an occupational therapist will also educate the parents and show them how to apply what they learn in occupational therapy at home.

“Practicing the skills at home can greatly help,” said Sircy. “We are only with the child for about 30 to 45 minutes a session, so the more they are also worked with at home, the more they can show new success. So, we encourage parents and guardians to join in and observe the sessions.”

To learn more about the Outpatient Rehabilitation Center’s pediatric ASD program, contact (931)-783-2900. A physician referral is required.

Photo courtesy of CRMC.

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