Tag: occupational therapy

Kolton Conquers Sensory Struggles and Graduates Occupational Therapy Victorious

At three years old, Kolton was having difficulty within a variety of areas including attention, transitions, emotional regulation, sensory processing, using feeding utensils, and pencil grip. His mom Sam, a behavioral consultant who had a professional history with the Schreiber Center for Pediatric Development, brought him to the center for assessment. “I wanted to be sure that if there was something more we could be doing to help him struggle less, we were doing it.” Sam shares.

During his assessment, it was discovered that Kolton’s visual motor skills were in the average range. However, his fine motor skills were below average impacting his pencil and feeding utensils grasp. He was also demonstrating sensory processing differences, with a mixture of both sensory seeking and sensory sensitivity resulting in deficits in body awareness, impulse control, auditory sensitivities, and oral sensory seeking actions. Because of this, it was recommended that he begin occupational therapy sessions with Bianca to work on improving these skills.

Kolton in OT with Bianca

During OT treatment, it was determined that Kolton had retained reflexes requiring reflex integration therapy. Reflex integration is the process through which primitive reflexes that are present in infants gradually diminish and are replaced by more controlled, purposeful movements as a child’s central nervous system matures. Kolton’s retained reflexes impacted his body awareness, bilateral coordination, fine motor, and his hand-eye coordination.

When Kolton began therapy, he had a very strong ‘infantile’ grip on writing and drawing utensils, and while he could write his own name, he had almost no interest in writing or doing any sort of arts and crafts. Bianca began working with him right away on learning how to hold his markers and crayons in a tripod hold with the correct amount of pressure when tracing images and coloring in between the lines. “It was especially helpful that Bianca played to his interests of trucks, trains, and other vehicles when coming up with new therapy games and crafts to do because it kept him engaged and made him want to do the work.” says mom, Sam. Now Kolton is a pro at the tripod hold and loves showing off what he works on in preschool every day. He doesn’t even mind practicing his fine motor skills at home anymore. Kolton also generalized his fine motor skill development to holding/using feeding utensils like a fork and spoon with an appropriate grip to self-feed during mealtimes. Kolton competed against Bianca picking up cheerios with a fork in sessions to improve this skill.

Kolton working on his tripod grip

During their therapy sessions, Bianca noticed that Kolton was seeking heavy work and movement to help him process his sensory integration and began working those techniques into his therapy plan. To work on his hand-eye coordination skills and improve his bilateral coordination, Bianca worked with Kolton on midline crossing activities such as jumping jacks and cross crawls. These exercises helped Kolton learn how to move both sides of his body at the same time and allowed him to practice those skills while getting to move around. Since these activities don’t require any additional equipment, they were also perfect to practice with his parents at home.

Kolton also took his sensory work home with him to practice, and mom Sam proudly shared that he has improved with sitting still so well that “We recently took Kolton to his first movie in the theater, and he was able to stay in the theater without getting up and moving around for the entire movie.” She explained that he had never even done that at home; so for his first successful movie experience to have been in a theater was especially thrilling. Not only that, but the struggle over his daily routines has greatly diminished, and he has even recently started to brush his teeth on his own. Sam attributes these successes to the sensory work he’s been doing in OT with Bianca.

According to Sam, one of the biggest benefits to Kolton’s therapy journey at the Schreiber Center though is that he is slowly moving towards more independence. She shares her pride in the fact that he has even learned how to be an advocate for himself and tell those around him when he needs help, and even more importantly how they can best help him. His mom attributes this to the absolute perfect fit that Bianca was for him. Looking back, she remembered that he used to be a shy kid, hiding behind her until he was comfortable, but he took to Bianca almost instantly and by his second session wasn’t even turning back to wave bye to her as he walked into the OT gym. “This self-confidence has spilled over to preschool where he now goes three times a week with no struggle” mom boasts.

Kolton working on his scissor skills

At Kolton’s October assessment session to determine if he would require additional therapy, Bianca told mom “We’re still working on strengthening midline crossing, but he’s succeeded in all his other goals. We’re recommending one more care of treatment plan for an additional 13 weeks, but he will likely be ready to graduate in 6.” Now just nine months after beginning OT services with Bianca, Kolton has graduated. Watching him get his handprint on our walls at graduation was a bittersweet moment for everyone involved. Of course, we want all our kiddos to improve to the point that therapy is no longer needed, but we always miss them and hope that they’ll come back to visit even after their last appointment is complete.

Reflecting on Kolton’s therapy journey, Sam shares something that got her through the tough times was remembering that nothing gets better without putting in the work. Pediatric therapy is a journey filled with ups and downs, but the kids and parents who put in the work agree, the payoff is immense. Sam recommends to all parents who are thinking about pediatric therapies for their children “Do it! It is better to do the assessment and know for sure whether your child needs the extra help that pediatric therapy can provide to them, than to not know and wonder if there is something else you could be doing to help them. There is no need to struggle though when the assessment is simple, and the process of therapy at Schreiber is so fantastic. There is no shame in asking for and accepting help.”

Kolton & Bianca with Kolton’s Graduation Handprint

Help Schreiber Clients like Kolton receive the care they need, consider donating in support of our Kids’ Care Fund, a long and short term savings account used to cover the costs of uncompensated care.

As a nationally recognized pediatric facility, the Schreiber Center for Pediatric Development provides family-centered education and therapy programs for infants, children and adolescents with disabilities, developmental delays, and acquired injuries. Our goal-oriented approach maximizes each child’s ability to function independently within the community.

Schreiber mom: From advocate for others to advocate for son

Leo Katchur works with Schreiber OT intern Marli Hess, back, and speech-language pathologist Maddy Sova during a recent therapy appointment. Leo, 3, has been diagnosed with autism and is using a tablet to help build his language skills.

Amanda Katchur is a psychologist who has been an advocate for services that support children for a number of years. Now, she’s learning to advocate for her own child, and that’s a completely different experience.

It’s one thing to know professionally the impact that Schreiber’s services and Lancaster County’s Early Intervention program have on families. It’s another thing to see it personally.

Her daughter Bethany was diagnosed as an infant with torticollis, a condition in infants that causes a baby’s head to tilt constantly to one side. Thanks to the work of Schreiber therapists, Bethany’s torticollis is gone and she runs, jumps and dances just like any 6-year-old little girl, Amanda said.

Bethany’s little brother Leo, 3 years old, has an autism diagnosis, was born with mild hearing loss and also had some torticollis as an infant. The three issues combined have left him behind in several areas of development. When it was time for Leo to receive services through Early Intervention, at 6 months old, Amanda had no hesitation.

“I knew we wanted to come back (to Schreiber) because we had such a positive experience with Bethany,” Amanda said.

Leo has been in good hands his therapy services started. Catherine Donahue was his Schreiber’s Early Intervention specialist for home visits. Dorlas Riley was his speech-language pathologist. Denisha Roberts worked with him in physical therapy. And Bernie Hershey has been his occupational therapist.

I like to think that we’ve been fortunate to have, like, the dream team…, with all the experience they have with his issues.


“They were all really great,” Amanda said. “I like to think that we’ve been fortunate to have, like, the dream team to be quite honest with you, with all the experience they have with his issues.”

COVID has, at times, made the therapy more challenging, like when the family had to switch to telehealth services for a time. At those moments, she could see the lengths the Schreiber team would go to for a child.

When telehealth sessions switched back to in-person visits, the change and the lack of consistency caused some challenges for Leo, as it does for many kids on the autism spectrum.

“Bernie showed up at one point at our house in costume as Jessie from “Toy Story” to try to re-engage after telehealth with Leo a little bit,” Amanda said. “They just really always made an attempt (to find what) he was interested in and get into his world, which I appreciated so much.”

During a recent therapy session at Schreiber, Leo worked with Marli Hess, an intern in Occupational Therapy, and Maddy Sova, a speech-language pathologist. They were trying to help him become more comfortable with a different kind of food – in this case, a chicken nugget – and to improve his language skills by using a smart tablet to respond to questions.

“We are working on communication in whatever way Leo feels most comfortable,” Amanda said. “Today, you saw him working on some eating, because eating has been a struggle for us, too. So he’s been working on increasing his tolerance for different foods and different textures and things like that. But communication has been, I would say, the biggest one.”

Mom was impressed with the way Leo greeted a visitor to the session, smiling and waving. “He probably wouldn’t have done that six months ago,” she said.

EI services do make a difference

Mandy Kolb Lyons is a coordinator in Lancaster County’s Early Intervention services program. She sent this email to agencies that provide Early Intervention services after a recent presentation to the agencies by Amanda Katchur. Amanda presented at the PA Statewide Interagency Coordinating Council (SICC) meeting to share her family’s story and how Early Intervention supported them.

Here’s an excerpt from Mandy’s email:

“Amanda shared numerous examples of how you helped to coach, support, empower and guide her and her family. Amanda beamed as she shared the journey that her son and family had with Early Intervention and mentioned a few times how Early Intervention supported her entire family, including Leo’s big sister! Not only did Leo grow and progress throughout services, his entire family did. We can only hope that every family that participates in Early Intervention can walk away feeling similarly to how Amanda and her family did after participating in our services.”