Occupational therapists at The SMILE Center are professionals trained to help children reach their optimal functional performance in the skills of daily life. Sensory and neuromotor based therapies provide children with the opportunities to become more functional and independent when faced with the many challenges presented at home, in school and in the community.
Our occupational therapy team can evaluate and treat the following skill areas:
- Sensory integration
- Postural control, alignment, movement patterns
- Core strength, motor planning
- Shoulder girdle, upper extremity, arm and hand function
- Fine motor skills, eye-hand coordination
- Visual spatial processing
- Self-help skills
- Environmental modification, adaptive equipment
The SMILE Center provides comprehensive occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech-language pathology evaluation services. We also provide evaluations for children in the Early Intervention program as well as the Committee of Preschool Special Education (CPSE). We utilize a variety of standardized and non-standardized assessment tools as well as questionnaires, detailed clinical observations and thorough parent/caregiver interview. We aim to determine the child’s most accurate level of functioning across all areas of performance in all domains involved. We understand that each child is different and therefore modify each evaluation process to meet the specific needs of the child. We make every effort for the process to be fun for the child and allow him/her as much time as needed to be comfortable and present their abilities. An evaluation generally takes 1 to 2 hours per discipline.
All Early Intervention evaluations are conducted under the NYS/DOH standards and regulations. Your service coordinator will guide you through this process.
Our evaluation services are available to all eligible children suspected of developmental delays. Experienced NYS licensed evaluators provide screening and evaluation services at the Center or Home, including:
Speech Language Pathology
Early Childhood Special Education
Multidisciplinary Evaluations are conducted within guidelines required by the New York State and New York City regulatory agencies.
Oral Motor Therapy
Oral motor therapy refers to an approach of treatment performed in and around the mouth that can be effective for a variety of populations and for a variety of reasons. The goal of the treatment can be to improve function of the musculature of the jaw, lips, cheeks and tongue in order to improve feeding and swallowing skills, speech articulation and production, as well as to provide sensory input for increased sensory awareness and improved regulation. An oral motor protocol may be put in place by a trained speech-language pathologist or occupational therapist.
For children with regulatory and/or sensory difficulties, specific exercises and activities are selected depending on the child's need. The goal of the treatment is to provide the child with sensory input to help them to maintain an improved state of regulation and improve sensory awareness and processing of tactile and proprioceptive input. Sensory input can be provided to the peri-oral (outside of mouth) and intra-oral (inside of mouth) musculature. Some examples include: deep pressure input, heavy chewing (chew tubes, gum, foods) massage with lotion, vibratory input, etc.
Oral motor treatment may also assist in improving speech production, specifically for children with articulation disorders. Specific therapy protocols, developed by speech-language pathologists exist that provide a framework and a developmental or hierarchal approach. These may be useful for children with speech sound errors related to oral musculature weakness and disorganization. As strength, control and sensory awareness of the muscles related to speech production are improved, they may become more suited for production of speech.
Training and Professional Development
It is the ultimate goal of The SMILE Center to reach outside of our walls and provide comprehensive programming and support for children with special needs, their family members, and other community professionals dedicated to child development. We firmly believe in offering parent and family training as well as sibling support and training. The roles of parents, caregivers, and brothers and sisters are critical in the therapeutic process. We promote optimal carryover by providing extensive home programming and sensory diets as well as home visit consultations to create sensory rich environments in the child’s natural setting. We also value the importance of communicating with school-based clinician’s, educators and outside providers, and make every effort to establish an ongoing relationship with them.
Our intensive in-house continuing education program continues to expand, maintaining the highest caliber of instruction and furthering the quality of care provided at The SMILE Center. Our objective is to bring leading instructors to our facility for ongoing, systematically scheduled conferences that support the therapeutic growth of not only our clinicians, but also the clinicians of our community. The SMILE Center’s one of a kind continuing education program helps to improve the quality of care being provided to children with special needs throughout the community and also strengthen the networking and relationships amongst therapists in our area.