An Occupational therapist’s scope of practice includes sleep promotion practices. Sleep disorders can disrupt an individual’s lifestyle and ability to access their environment in some cases. It can also disrupt the family unit when it is a child with a disability having sleep issues since the parents/caregivers are likely to be dealing with the sleep deprivation issues throughout the night and it may also wake other siblings up in the home. Therefore, if you are having difficulties with your child getting a full nights rest, please let your occupational therapist know!
Some strategies that occupational therapists can provide to families are setting bedtime routines, starting new habits, and setting up patterns for you and your family to follow. Occupational therapists can work to ensure these new routines are plausible in your home for you to successfully follow. Sometimes a child’s sleep issue arises from sensory avoiding or sensory seeking behaviors in which tools can be utilized such as visual charts showing routines, reinforcers or praise for sleeping, clothing management (tight or loose pajamas depending on the child’s needs), or different types of blankets (heavy or light depending on the child’s needs). Including a calming activity prior to bedtime can be very important too.
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