News from the Team

Come back here regularly to see the latest news and events around our Team!

News from the ECT's, OT's and SP's Desk:

Encouraging Independence - Sept 2018

Mater Dei Early Intervention Program Occupational Therapists have been trialling new group programs this year. One of the group programs that has been a success has been the ‘Encouraging Independence’ groups. The groups are tailored to the goals set by the young persons and their families and are ever changing to meet these needs. The group pictured has been focussing on independence in completing their morning routine. There has been an emphasis on skill development as well as processing speed in all aspects of the morning routine including showering, getting dressed, making and eating breakfast and brushing teeth. All of these young men now have improved speed to complete tasks, can recall the morning routine with limited visuals and have mastered making breakfast independently. These young men also have a social goal which is to be able to engage in team sports. We had a focus on cricket this term. Not only do the young men now have the correct social cues and ability to engage in games with rules, they also have developed their gross motor skills, motor planning skills and executive function to be able to engage in the sport. We are very proud of the effort that the young men put in each fortnight and look forward to more progress to come. 


The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)

Gemma Hughes SP recently attended an intensive two-day course in Sydney on The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) Level 1. During the rigorous training, Gemma gained a deep understanding of the theory behind PECS and its benefits for children and adults with limited verbal communication including children with developmental delay and those who have a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Gemma learnt how to appropriately implement the six phases of PECS including promoting communication within a social context. Gemma thoroughly enjoyed the PECS workshop and is excitedly planning on incorporating her newly-gained skills in her individual Speech Pathology sessions for the many children who come to her in the Mater Dei Early Intervention Program Rooms.  


Key Word Sign (KWS) Training 

The Mater Dei Early Intervention Program (MDEIP) Team of Therapists and Educators recently attended a Key Word Sing (KWS) Training Workshop. KWS is a simplified form of Australian Sign Language (Auslan) and is designed to be used by and with people who have difficulties with communication.   KWS enables the person to communicate their needs, opinions, feelings and experiences whilst enabling their communication partner ie their parent, carer, sibling, friend, Therapist, Teacher to support the person’s understanding by providing a visual when saying the word to augment or supplement the word.

The MDEIP Team has decided to choose the Key Word Sign (KWS) of the Week to use with each other and with the children who attend the MDEIP Rooms for their Therapy sessions and/or Early Learning Groups. We are also encouraging our parents and carers to use each KWS with their children for consistency across all environments.

A poster displaying a diagram and explanation of the KWS of the Week as well as a video link with be forwarded to all MDEIP families via email each week and the KWS of the Week will be displayed in the MDEIP Waiting Room with take-home copies available.
We are encouraging our parents and carers to talk to their MDEIP Speech Pathologist, Occupational Therapist and/or Early Childhood Teacher if you have any questions about the KWS of the Week. 



Fussy Feeding Workshop

MDEIP Speech Pathologists Gemma Hughes and Jackie Harris recently attended the Fussy Feeding Workshop at Harrington Speech and Paediatric Feeding Clinic which was presented by Anne Rosten, Speech and Lactation Pathologist with more than 18 years’ experience in paediatric feeding.
Jackie and Gemma reported that they gained a deeper understanding of the different skills required for feeding at various stages of children’s development, the causes of fussy feeding and interventions that Therapists can implement to assist families and carers whose children are presenting with fussy feeding.  Gemma and Jackie thoroughly enjoyed this workshop and look forward to including their increased awareness and insight into the issue of fussy feeding which so frequently presents with children who require early intervention such as with Mater Dei Early Intervention Program.

Mealtime Management

MDEIP OT Gabrielle Barnes recently attended the Mealtime Management course at Fairfield ADHC Office which provided an understanding of different health professional perspectives and responsibilities surrounding feeding interventions.

Gabby reported, “As an Occupational Therapist I’m well positioned to assist with issues relating to distress or fatigue around mealtime, behavioural issues such as a child overfilling their mouth, sucking or holding food in their mouth, having difficulty using feeding utensils and cups, seating and body positioning when feeding, fussy eating and limited diets, the need for positive participation in mealtime routines, obsessive or compulsive behaviours around different food and teeth brushing.”

Gabby advised her MDEIP colleagues that the the Mealtime Management course also introduced the revised “Nutrition and Swallowing Risk Checklist” which can be used as a screening tool to identify clients’ specific needs around feeding and to determine if a referral to another health service is required.


Therapeutic Listening

Alycia Cantrill OT attended Therapeutic Listening® training recently. Therapeutic Listening® was developed by an Occupational Therapist called Sheila Frick, and is an innovative program for providing high quality auditory input within the context of a sensory based treatment program. Alycia was lucky enough to have Sheila Frick present the course alongside Lynette Burke. Both research and clinical experience have shown that using sound-based interventions for clients with sensory processing difficulties can increase treatment effectiveness. Alycia learnt how to use Therapeutic Listening® modulated audio selections to create individualised, home-based programs for clients. As well as how to implement Therapeutic Listening® strategies in conjunction with postural, respiratory, and sensory activities. Alycia is looking forward to using this program with our clients and families as part of their comprehensive intervention.

The Alert Program

Mater Dei Early Intervention Program Occupational Therapists and Speech Pathologists have all become acquainted with the Alert Program for self-regulation and are incorporating these strategies into our children’s Therapy sessions.

The Alert Program is a practical approach to change or maintain states of alertness and self-regulation for children of all ages who are living with disability and additional needs including developmental delay, intellectual disability and a diagnosis of an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

The ALERT Program uses the car engine analogy which so many children can relate to as they talk about their engines running too high, too low or just right. The engine analogy is just one way of describing how our body feels. If we are in a low state of alertness feeling lethargic or sluggish we are not ready to learn. Similarly, if we are in a high state of alertness and hyperactive or overexcited then learning will be much more difficult.

The ALERT Program offers self-regulation strategies to attain an optimal state of alertness to set up our body’s nervous system for success so that we are ready to learn and achieve our goals.


Applied Behaviour Analysis Training Day

Mater Dei Early Intervention Program members of staff, Simone Radman SP and Belinda Morgan ECT, attended the Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) ‘Tackling Challenging Behaviour Workshop’ facilitated by Assessments and Behaviour Interventions (ABi) in August 2015.

The workshop explored why children display challenging behaviours, the functions of presenting behaviours, data collection and strategies to impact change for children.

During the training day, real footage was shown to demonstrate these ideas and strategies in practice. Case studies were also used to see the positive changes that occurred over time for extreme challenging behaviours.

This information gives the MDEIP team of professionals the tools to share with our children’s families that can really impact their daily lives and give parents and carers hope that things can be different.  Attending the professional development day was also a great opportunity to network with other professionals working with families who have a child with a disability.

Sensory processing and everyday life

Mater Dei Early Intervention Program’s therapists Amy Thompson OT, Tara Bateup OT and Simone Radman SP recently attended an intensive day of professional development focusing on Sensory processing and everyday life: practical evidence-based strategies for supporting children, their families and teachers.

Dr Winne Dunn facilitated the day’s course for allied health professionals from various service providers speaking of her Sensory Processing Framework and its implementation when determining a child’s sensory processing abilities to increase the child’s participation in meaningful activities.

Dr Dunne referred to research that demonstrates that intervention focusing solely on supporting a family to achieve their prioritized goals leads to significant improvements in their child’s participation in everyday activities.

The course clarified the Therapists’ ongoing determination of underlying sensory processing difficulties using the new Sensory Profile 2 Assessment and in turn their creation of opportunities for the child to be successful in a range of environments including home, Preschool, School and in their communities.  

Training in the Paediatric Equipment Prescription Process

Mater Dei Early Intervention Program (MDEIP) Occupational Therapists, Amy Thompson and Tara Bateup, recently attended professional development and training regarding Paediatric Equipment Prescription facilitated by Sydney Children’s Hospital in Randwick.
This one day introductory course provided Tara and Amy with vital information on the Equipment Prescription Process inlcuding:

    the Occupational Therapist’s role in Equipment Prescription
    how the Occupational Therapist organises trials and funding options for specific equipment that a child may need
    pressure injury risk factors and supports
    transport equipment options such as modified car seats, special purpose restraints, supports, car modifications, and
    the transportation of medical equipment.

The MDEIP Occupational Therapists will continue to expand their knowledge in this highly skilled area with the view to including Equipment Prescription in the MDEIP suite of services.

Sensory Processing - March 2014

Mater Dei Early Intervention Program’s two Occupational Therapists, Amy Thompson and Tara Bateup, recently presented a series of seminars to parents, carers and their colleagues in the Mater Dei Early Intervention Program team focusing on Sensory Processing.

Tara and Amy described the way that our bodies take in information through our senses and how this information is organised in our central nervous system in order for us to be able to understand, react and interact appropriately with the world around us.

Amy and Tara explained that Sensory Processing occurs during our entire lifetime as we constantly engage with our environment and have new experiences although our most intense and important period of our sensory development occurs between the ages of birth to six years of age.

Everyone who attended Tara and Amy’s seminars gained a deeper understanding of Sensory Processing, the seven primary senses (sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste) and the two less commonly referred to internal senses that come from within our bodies (vestibular or movement and balance and proprioception or body awareness).  As several people commented, “It’s no wonder that children with Sensory Processing disorders feel out of control, exhibit a range of behaviours and have difficulty concentrating and focusing in School!”

Tara and Amy will definitely be in demand to re-present these seminars in the near future.