14-year-old Cameron has always
had trouble in school.
Whether it’s following instructions…
“He would think about what the teacher was saying and only
hear part of it and start doing the work and not complete it effectively,” says
his mother, Karin Szwec.
Or staying focused…
“I might look up at the board and see something in the
room and just not really, just get distracted by something,” explains
Cameron has attention deficit disorder…
Medications helped… but they weren’t the cure-all.
So this summer, he’s trying something new: occupational
It looks like simple exercises…bouncing a basketball,
balancing a balloon on a racket… but before everything,
the therapist gives him detailed instructions: exactly how many
steps to take, for instance, and how many dribbles to make.
“I structured in there he had to repeat a pattern for sequencing,
he had to be able to sub-vocalize what the pattern was… so
he was learning strategies for assimilating and processing that
information,” says Occupational Therapist Susan Orloff.
She says it’s a fun, low stress way to teach a-d-d children
listening skills, how to pause before they act, how to focus.
A new study from Temple University backs that up. Of 88 children
who took 40 hours of occupational therapy, 85-percent improved
in their ability to remember instructions from a teacher, and finish
“He’s toning down on his impulsivity,” says
Mrs. Szwec, “He used to be very impulsive. He would hear
an instruction and jump right in before the instruction was completed.”
Experts say occupational therapy isn’t a replacement for
a-d-h-d drugs… but used with medication… can greatly
add to gains.
“We’re not the white horse that’s going to
come through and clean up everything,” says Orloff, “We’re
part of that package.”