Pietermaritzburg Assessment and Therapy Centre

On Thursday 20th April 2017, Sizabantwana heard from two therapists, Nivashnee Padayachee (physiotherapy) and Tarryn Carey (occupational therapy), who visited us from the Pietermaritzburg Assessment and Therapy Centre. The Pietermaritzburg Assessment and Therapy Centre is a government organization that provides excellent rehabilitation services to those persons with physical disabilities or injuries who live in and around Pietermaritzburg. The ladies that came to speak to Sizabantwana on Thursday shared some of their invaluable insight on this very broad area.

Nivashnee spoke to the group first and explained the concept of muscle tone and how this may affect a child’s behaviour, posture, balance and consequently a number of issues that may present in the classroom context, such as handwriting and concentration. Nivashnee further explained how muscle tone is merely one example of the numerous physical problems that children who present with behavioural problems may be experiencing. Some very useful tips on how to deal with this issue in the classroom were given, such as incorporating constructive play to improve muscle tone, into class activities.

Tarryn spoke next about various perceptual, physical and cognitive issues that children may experience in the classroom and possible practical ways of helping these children overcome these issues. Some of the issues regarding perception that were discussed included visual perception, visual discrimination, form constancy, visual closure, dyspraxia, dysgraphia and dyslexia. Creative ways to help children overcome these issues in the classroom were given such as managing the environment, games that aid children in recognising and completing shapes to help with reading and writing and many more. The physical issue of sensory processing disorders was explained as a child’s need to have one or more of their senses activated in order to concentrate or feel comfortable and that including activities such as clapping or jumping, that allow children to activate their senses may help to improve learning.

The therapists from the Pietermaritzburg Assessment and Therapy Centre also discussed the possible ways of assessing whether their learners require a referral and the steps necessary to take in order to make a referral to see them.

From all of us at Sizabantwana we would like to thank the Pietermaritzburg Assessment and Therapy Centre and specifically Nivashnee Padayachee and Tarryn Carey for coming to talk to us and for sharing their experience and knowledge with us. We understand that there is so much more that could have been covered and we really appreciate the general introduction to the areas of physio and OT and that you tailored the information and made it relevant to the classroom context. We look forward to working with you again.

I would also like to thank ndlalanathi and Uthando for the gorgeous dolls, the teachers were very pleased to receive them.

Thank you.

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