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Episode #125: The Importance of Occupational Therapy with Dr. Kelle DeBoth Foust

Dr. Kelle DeBoth Foust is one of my best friends; we’ve been friends for over 15 years. She is an Occupational Therapist and an Associate Professor of OT at Cleveland State University. She has a passion for working with children with autism and other developmental disabilities and today she shares her wealth of knowledge with us.

What is Occupational Therapy? No, it has nothing to do with helping people find jobs! Dr. DeBoth Foust describes it as therapy to regain the skills necessary for meaningful activities or occupational roles. This is a skill or activity that you LOVE to do and the foundational skills necessary to help you do it. For kids and young learners, this is commonly play or school participation.

Occupational Therapists work frequently with sensory processing disorders and help use sensory integration for regulation. Dr. DeBoth Foust talks about “sensory diets,” which are strict schedules for sensory activities, and how these can sometimes not be very helpful. Working with sensory issues needs to be totally individualized, and teachers need to “be a detective” to see what triggers or helps students. Students should have some choice and be able to self identify how they feel and what they need to regulate. 

We also discuss a hot topic I love; collaboration. As we are all highly trained in our fields and we want what’s best for the learner, collaboration can be tough if we don’t fully understand each other’s roles. When it comes to BCBAs and OTs collaborating, they can often butt heads because it might feel like OTs are reinforcing problem behaviors with sensory integration. Dr. DeBoth Foust explains it well when she says, “Not every behavior problem is a sensory issue and not every sensory issue is a behavior problem”. 

Dr. DeBoth Foust and her work focus on increasing engagement and participation in play! You can find out more about her work through CSU or the program PLAAY on the Move.

#autism #speechtherapy

Today’s Guest:

Dr. Kelle DeBoth Foust received her Master of Occupational Therapy from the University of Pittsburgh in 2004 and her PhD from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2016. Her clinical background is working with children with autism and other developmental disabilities. Dr. DeBoth Foust has worked in home, school, and community settings and is certified to administer the Sensory Integration and Praxis tests, making her an expert in the area of sensory processing and integration. After 14 years of clinical practice, she turned toward academia to pursue her love of research. She is currently an Associate Professor at Cleveland State University, teaches the OT Foundations and both research courses, and has published several articles in areas related to pediatrics and sensory processing.

What’s Inside:

  • What is Occupational Therapy?
  • What school is required to become an OT?
  • Common goals and skills OTs practice.
  • What are sensory processing disorders?
  • What is a sensory diet?
  • What are barriers to collaboration with BCBAs and OTs?

Mentioned In This Episode

PLAAY on the Move
Kelle Kathleen DeBoth Foust, PhD, OTR/L

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