FILE — Avery Schneider enjoys storytime with Sally Towers at Little Oak Learning Centre.

FILE — Avery Schneider enjoys storytime with Sally Towers at Little Oak Learning Centre.

Letter: Increase access to occupational therapists

The experience highlighted by the family of Oliver Brooks in this article is not news.

Response to: “Provincial funds not adequate for four-year-old boy’s health needs” (Nov. 30, 2018) by Barb Brouwer

Sadly, the experience highlighted by the family of Oliver Brooks in this article is not news for our association. Like Salmon Arm, there are many communities in B.C. that are drastically underfunded and also face continued challenges in access to timely services that meet the needs of the child and the parent.

Occupational therapists (OTs) assess children’s function in daily routines and living skills and take into account social supports and environment to ensure kids are offered an optimal opportunity to thrive. OTs work with children in the home, classroom and community, and provide recommendations for changes to these environments that will support kids like Oli to maximize their independence and social engagement.

Currently, access to occupational therapy for children and families is limited, thereby leaving families with an extra challenge of finding and funding their own services. Without access to occupational therapy, children like OIi will transition into adulthood without having had the opportunity to learn and build critical daily living skills such as feeding, bathing and grooming, therefore relying more heavily on caregivers. Not only can OTs help kids with gaining increased independence with these skills, but they can also provide guidance in acquiring the most appropriate assistive devices and equipment to ensure the best possible quality of life.

Inclusion BC’s report “Kids Can’t Wait” (2016) found there are excessive wait times for early intervention services provided by OTs. Our association calls on the Ministry of Children and Family Development to increase access to occupational therapists for B.C.’s underserved communities so that Oli and other children get the services they desperately need. The time to invest in children and their families is now.

Sarah Charles, Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists