3 ways OTS can use technology to support their young clients

Can we use technology for all OT roles? Yes!  

In fact, there are 3 ways OTs can use technology to support their young clients!! 

Pretty amazin... right???  

So how is this possible?  Let me explain. 

1. Directly

You are using technology to help your young client develop the skills they need by working directly with technology, such as an iPad and apps. Your goal is for the child to interact with the device and program to allow them to develop the skills they need and gain independence.  Your client may still need an adult supervising them to ensure they are working well with the app but the child is using the program to learn and develop the skills they need.  

I think this is the most common approach to using technology.  This is an area I like to dive into a little deeper when I'm working through my online courses and programs (iPads and OTs Course and iPads at School Levelled Program).  I show you how you can set up the device and app to allow your client to gain the skills and independence using the iPad and apps.  This is a powerful and beautiful part of using technology as an OT -- which of course I am very passionate about. 

So a simple example of direct use of technology is using an app to help a child learn how to form a letter using their finger.  They have the support they need to work on motor planning through the app and the use of their index finger -- while you work on their fine motor skills in a traditional way!!  Your role as the OT is to identify the best app for their skill level. 

2. Indirectly 

Oh yes!  Indirectly is also a big part of using technology to help support clients.  The adults may be using the device as a way to support the child.  

Now this can be a bit tricky.  

If the adult is using the device when it NEEDS to be used directly by the child -- that's a problem! But let's assume that's not the case and the device is used by the adult to allow the child to make gains but the child is not using the technology themselves.   This is what I call INDIRECT use of technology for skill development.  

A simple example of using technology indirectly is an adult using a video to show a child how to set up their shoes to put them on the correct foot.  The adult is there and supports the child and is using the device as well.  Again...the OT needs to set up the best app and the right task to use the device and app in the best way.  

3. Both 

Hmmmm....do I have you thinking now?  I thought so.  

There are times when you start with indirect use of technology which again is the adult being the 'main' user of the device and then you ask the child to use it directly for a small period of time. 

This is more of a dance...which is not so easy but is well worth the process of going back and forth between INDIRECT AND DIRECT.

An example of this is using technology as the child's voice. There are times when the adult will engage in using the device to show the child what they are discussing (INDIRECT) and what they can select on the screen -- and then they ask the child to use the device (DIRECTLY) to interact with them.  

The image I selected for this post says it all...you may be working with the child on visual and physical access of an app to see if the child is able to select the visual that let's them express the temperature such as 'cold' or 'hot'. As the OT,  you will use the device (indirectly) to allow the child to watch as you tell them if something is hot or cold by touching the 'hot or cold visual' on the screen -- and then the child follows up by selecting the hot or cold visual to interact with you.  

The child needs indirect support and then they need to attempt to interact with the device to allow them to gain skills but this approach also allows you, as the OT, to see what your client needs to be independent with their visual and physical skills to use the device to communicate.  

So think in these three ways when you are working with your clients.  What approach are you using and why?  If you need support you know I'm here to help you learn more about using technology as an OT.  You can start today with the iPads and OTs course which will get you started!