Occupational Therapy

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 

Evaluation Services

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:
Social Work
Speech Language Pathology
Occupational Therapy
Physical Therapy
Early Childhood Special Education
Multidisciplinary Evaluations are conducted within guidelines required by the New York State and New York City regulatory agencies.

Feeding/Swallowing Therapy

Children with neuro-muscular disorders commonly present with delayed feeding and swallowing skills.  Decreased postural and respiratory control frequently result in children developing compensatory holding or “fixing” patterns of many of the muscle groups responsible for breathing and swallowing.  This can result in difficulties or inabilities to safely and efficiently manage a variety of food consistencies and liquids.  These children also may not have developed adequate muscular strength and coordination to chew food appropriately.  Therefore a need for modified food consistencies (purees, soft solids) and liquids (thickened) may be necessary to ensure safety while eating, as handling techniques are utilized to facilitate improved postural and respiratory control to support more independent and appropriate feeding and swallowing.  Our therapists have experience with diet modifications, G-tube weaning, and analysis of MBS (modified barium swallow) studies.

Disorders of feeding and swallowing can occur during different stages of the swallow.  For difficulties in the oral stage of swallowing, therapy will focus on providing oral-motor exercises to strengthen and coordinate the muscles within the oral cavity, to allow for better preparation of foods while ensuring a safe swallow.  For difficulties in the later stages of the swallow, various compensatory strategies may be used to ensure that aspiration (fluids and food entering the lungs) does not occur.

Sensory feeding disorders commonly occur in children with sensory integration dysfunction, including children with autism spectrum disorders.  A different approach to feeding therapy is used for these children, focusing on the sensory system rather than motor.  SOS (Sequential Oral Sensory) Feeding Program is an example of a sensory-based feeding therapy that takes the whole child into account when developing a program to better include a variety of foods into their diet.

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.