For occupational therapists (OT), working with children with special needs definitely requires mental strength and a high level of patience to deal with their challenging behaviour.

Siti Noraisikin Mohd Jazuli, 41, said supporting over 80 children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and so on certainly has challenges, including the need to attract their attention so that they can focus longer on their learning activities.

“Using therapeutic tools is one of the techniques to help these children calm down. We use combination approaches such as movement-based learning, behaviour modification technique and sensory-motor therapy because they need trial and error.

“This task requires passion and deep interest because some students would cry throughout the one-hour session. So, as occupational therapists, we need to know how to deal with this situation,” she told Bernama when met recently.

The owner of Indebrain Occupational Therapy Centre, who has 20 years of experience in paediatric occupational therapy, said that one of the biggest challenges is facing parents who are in denial of their child’s unique needs.

Siti Noraisikin said the field of occupational therapy is not only about helping and supporting children with special needs but also their parents, guardians and teachers at school because the treatment will help these children work on their motor skills, thus improving their ability to participate in daily life.

“For example, there is a case where a government hospital diagnosed a child, but the mother could not accept her child’s condition, which led to a default of treatment and follow-ups.

“It is also one of the challenges for us as educators. We need to ensure that these parents accept the child’s condition because, with that acceptance, the parents have actually given the child greater opportunities,” she said.

Another occupational therapist, Nurhamizah Hasan, 23, who has served for two years at the centre, said emotional management is essential when working with children with special needs.

“In the therapy sessions, I will take a short break to compose myself before teaching these children because we have to look happy in front of them so they are not afraid of us.

“Another challenge is to make parents understand the actual situation of their children because there are parents who come here with high expectations.

“My advice to parents is please don’t measure your child’s success in terms of academics but in life management, behaviour and skills. Develop their interests so they succeed in their own way,” she said.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency