Aspire Therapies : Mobile Pediatric Occupational Therapy

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Here at Memphis Mom Co, we love to feature the best resources in the city. A thank you to Aspire Therapies for trusting us to spread the word about this new, woman-owned business and for being a part of our "In & Around Memphis" series.

In & Around Memphis

Meet Aspire Therapies : a mobile based Occupational Therapy practice

aspire therapy logoHello! My name is Whitney Joy Sanford — a wife, mother to an 8-year-old daughter, and a native Memphian.

I am also an Occupational Therapist and co owner of Aspire Therapies.

People always mistake me for a Physical Therapist so let me explain what I do : 

An Occupational Therapist assists with helping an individual find a new way to complete activities that are important to them. 

I have been practicing as an OT for 10 years but have been in the home health setting for the last 5. Home health is my passion. It enables me to help patients meet goals in their own environment, allowing me to build a closer bond with my patients and their families.

For the last 2 years, I primarily worked with adults. During my home visits, I noticed that many of my patients were babysitting their grandchildren while their parents worked. 

I also recognized that these children were lacking social skills, fine motor coordination skills, and gross motor coordination skills. Because of the pandemic, they could not develop these skills in a traditional school setting and were not developing them at home.  

As a result, my husband and I formulated a business plan for a mobile therapy practice focusing on helping kids. As parents ourselves, we know how difficult it can be to take off work or pull kids from school to make it to appointments.

Our practice is unique because we come into our client’s homes!  

child cutting with scissors during occupational therapy
Difficulty cutting with scissors is a red flag for the need for OT.

Pediatric OT’s help children develop the fine motor skills, balance, attention, coordination, and strength. These enable the kids to participate in age appropriate play tasks and self care skills.

So how do you know if your child needs OT services?
Here are a few red flags that I share with families:

  • They struggle with manipulating utensils during feeding
  • Toileting is a challenge
  • Managing clothing is difficult — snaps, buttons, zippers, etc.
  • School skills that involve fine motor coordination like handwriting are hard
  • Transitions between activities cause a poor reaction 
  • Social interaction with peers is difficult
  • Meal times may be challenging secondary to sensory issues

…. there may be more than this list, but it’s a good starting point for parents.

I think my child needs OT; now what?

I typically do an informal screening of the child first. The screening only takes 15 minutes and I assess the child’s ability to complete fine motor tasks. I might observe them stacking blocks or manipulating a writing utensil.

If I see a problem, I then recommend a formal occupational therapy evaluation. This does require a pediatrician’s referral. 

The evaluation typically involves a standardized assessment to test the child’s ability to draw different shapes or construct different patterns using blocks. Other examples might include manipulating scissors or stringing beads. The purpose of this evaluation is to assess what deficits the OT needs to address during therapy sessions. 

therapy aids
These are just a few of the fun “tools” OTs might use in a therapy session!

There are a variety of OT assessments available and not every assessment is appropriate for every child. I do my best to figure out what assessment will meet a child’s needs, because I definitely do not want to cause undue stress in this situation.  I also interview the parent about the child’s habits, routines, and reactions to a variety of situations.

If the child requires occupational therapy, sessions typically occur 1 to 2 times per week for 30-60 minutes, depending on the child’s needs and attention span. 

child participating in occupational therapy
Child practicing manipulating light bright pieces during an OT session.

Many children in Memphis would benefit from OT services but many people don’t seek help, often because they do not know what we do or what their child needs. It’s my prayer that  families in Memphis know that there IS help and we can come to you to provide these much-needed services!

I aspire to help!

What about insurance?

Aspire Therapies has received credentials and now accepts coverage with most major insurance agencies. These include: UnitedHealthCare, BCBS, and TennCare (Blue Care and UnitedHealthCare Community Plans).

Aspire Therapies also accepts private pay patients.

Remember, Occupational Therapists are medical professionals who have passed a national board examination and have at least a Master’s Degree.

Please visit our website for more information & follow us here on Instagram.

Or call us at 901-949-9488 to schedule a FREE SCREENING.

 

aspire therapy Whitney co-ownerA note from Whitney:

My journey to becoming an occupational therapist is long and I took the figurative less travelled road to get here.  I graduated from Austin Peay State University in 2005 with a B.A. in Communications and aspirations to be a broadcast journalist. I was a production assistant at WREG for a couple of years and couldn’t find job satisfaction. I always wanted to go into healthcare but fear stopped me from taking the step to pursue an Allied Health degree. I researched occupational therapy and loved that it viewed the patient as a person and focused on their interests to help them tackle goals, despite an injury or disability.  I practiced as an OT assistant for 4 years and my passion for the field grew so much that I entered Belmont University’s Master of Occupational Therapy program and graduated in 2018. I love the fact that I get to help a child reach his or her goals through play!