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Developmental Coordination Group @ AOTA: Standing Room Only

by on May 30, 2013

Four members of the Mosaic Children’s Therapy, Bellevue OT team attended the National Occupational Therapy Conference (AOTA) in San Diego both as attendees and presenters. Elizabeth Malshuk OTR/L one of our newest members of staff presented with fellow graduates from the University of Washington Master’s program on their research from a collaborative project in 2012. The research focused on the findings from the exceptional fun and successful Developmental Coordination Group (gross motor group). The presentation was well attended with standing room only, not only promoting awareness of treatment of DCD(Developmental Coordination Disorder) but also raising awareness about the services available at Mosaic.

In the spring of 2012, Masters of Occupational Therapy students from the University of Washington partnered with MOSAIC staff to design, implement, and evaluate a Gross Motor Group for children with coordination difficulties.   Research shows that children with coordination difficulties tend to limit their own participation in gross motor activities which often is linked to health problems such as obesity and high blood pressure, as well as decreased socialization with peers and less success at school.  It was a big area of need observed by the staff at MOSAIC, leading them to partner with the University of Washington as they addressed this need.  The group used games and creative adaptations of activities to help kids learn to plan their movements and gain confidence in their own abilities.

Some of the most memorable games included Super Spy Training, where kids moved through streamers hung on a wall (laser beams) before tossing a ball at a target, and Jedi Teamwork, where kids would verbalize a plan to help a blindfolded teammate through an obstacle course.  The sessions had a strong social component and encouraged kids to break down each task to achieve success.

Surveys and data collected before and after the group showed that it was very effective in teaching the kids a new way to approach tasks and increased their confidence not only with coordination tasks, but also for daily tasks like dressing and participating socially with peers.  Every year, the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) holds a convention to showcase the latest research and effective treatment approaches for occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants.  This Gross Motor Group project was selected to present at the AOTA conference this year because of its effectiveness and creative approach for kids with coordination difficulties.

The AOTA conference room (one of their larger ones) was filled to capacity with occupational therapists wanting to learn more about the group started at MOSAIC, and even had to turn away audience members to follow fire code.  Audience members came up after the presentation to learn more about the specific activities used, ask about internships at MOSAIC, and express their appreciation for creative activities that would motivate and engage children.  It was an honor to represent both MOSAIC and the University of Washington while contributing to the field of occupational therapy at a national level.

MOSAIC aims to offer a similar group later in 2013, once again focusing on graded coordination skills with a social component. Training sessions will be offered to parents to assist with identifying dyspraxia or development coordination disorder and facilitation of homework.  More information will be available nearer the group recruitment dates.

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