Occupational therapists prefer combining multiple intervention approaches for children with learning difficulties

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Abstract

Background/aim:

Research to date has not fully explored how occupational therapists provide intervention for children with learning difficulties in their day-to-day practice. The purpose of this study was to provide an in-depth description of the approaches and techniques used and how they are applied and combined to meet the complex and multifaceted needs of these children.

Methods:

In-depth interviews and short questionnaires were completed by seven occupational therapists who had provided intervention to children with learning difficulties. Observations of therapy sessions were also conducted. Thematic analysis gained insight into the approaches and techniques therapists used and how these were applied in practice.

Results:

Therapists use a wide range of approaches in various combinations because they feel that these best meet the needs of individual children. Sensory-based and cognitive approaches were most frequently drawn from and combined with other approaches such as visual information analysis, biomechanical and psychosocial approaches added for particular purposes. Approaches were usually combined simultaneously within an activity or session.

Conclusions:

Therapists create their own ‘multimodel’ approach in order to best meet the needs of their clients. They are able to articulate the theoretical basis behind these choices, although lack of clarity exists about the frames of reference being used.

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