An Interview with Julie Richardson, Mother of a child with ADHD and Anxiety

Tell us a little bit about your family.

My husband and I have been married for 14 years and have 2 children, Owen who is 11 and Anna who is 9. 

At what age did you seek intervention and why?

Owen had started preschool at the age of 3 and we received feedback from the teachers that he    could not sit nor pay attention for any length of time, was lacking impulse control and was showing signs of anxiety. Shortly after, we met with our Pediatrician and began the assessment process.  Once that process was over, OT was suggested.  

What were some of the benefits you saw with therapy?

Oh my goodness, where do I start?! We went weekly and worked on a variety of skills such as transitioning from one activity to the next without throwing a tantrum, sensory activities and learning to get messy/dirty, balance and riding a bike, coordination and tying shoes, going to the dentist and being able to sit in the chair and get his teeth cleaned with no tears or screaming and how to deal with frustration without showing aggression.  I could go on and on.  These skills  were achieved through play and practice.  Karen, our amazing therapist, would put Owen is situations that he would display a negative reaction to and she would help him work through the situation with coping skills that she had taught him. 

How did the OT involve you as parents as part of the treatment process?

Karen is an amazing therapist that not only taught Owen coping skills, she also taught us as parents.  Attending weekly sessions with Owen, she would model key phrases, words and tone of voice that helped Owen work through a situation.  She is a wealth of knowledge that provided resources, books, videos, recommended martial arts to help with focus (which we are still doing today and Owen will be testing for his black belt this summer!) and answered any questions we had.  She also accompanied us to a dental appointment and modeled how to help Owen work through his anxiety and going to the dentist.  

Do you have any advice for others thinking about OT for their child?

DO IT!!! It was the BEST decision we made.  Owen has grown so much and has overcome so many challenges.  We no longer worry when going to the dentist or orthodontist. He has skills to help him work through frustrating situations.  We know we have a support system in place that will be there when new challenges arise.  OT, especially Karen, changed our lives in ways that we could not think would ever happen. 

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