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Independence Therapy Works. Just Ask My Patient, A Girl, 11, With Autism

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Read Time: 3 minutes

Had to share this note from a Florida practitioner! You’ll see why!

Good Morning, Let Grow! My name is Kara, and I’m a pediatric occupational therapist in Florida. I wanted to share some recent successes I’ve had with independence therapy and encouraging kids to do things on their own.

If you’re not familiar with occupational therapy (OT), we are the medical professionals who help people do the things they want to do, have to do, or need to do, despite any diagnosis, disability, or illness. I predominantly work with autistic children of various ages and abilities.

A girl who hid behind her mom.

I was personally raised in a more “free-range” manner and have come to appreciate how much it contributed to my independence and development. I’ve noticed that many children today, particularly those I see in my profession, lack these experiences and skills. With this in mind, I’ve implemented your Independence Therapy and the accompanying parent education with some of my patients, providing some amazing results.

One particular story I’d like to share is about an 11-year-old girl with anxiety and higher support needs on the autism spectrum. When she first started seeing me, she wouldn’t engage, hid behind her mother, stared at the ground, and barely whispered responses. After building rapport, we identified that her parents did most things for her because it was easier, despite her capability to do them herself. We discovered that she was motivated by the idea of ordering for herself at a restaurant and buying things at stores independently.

From “I can’t do it” to “I did it!”

After a few sessions of role-playing and practice, we planned a session where she walked to a small store on the opposite side of the complex where the clinic is located, went inside with $10, and bought something all by herself. When she succeeded, she came running out of the store screaming, “Look, I did it! When we go to Dollar General, I’m buying the stuff!” with the biggest smile on her face.

Since then, I’ve seen her blossom in therapy. Her mom is now encouraging her to do all sorts of things on her own, and every week in therapy, we pick an “on my own task” (this week’s task is ordering from Chick-fil-A). Before doing the “on my own task” she would constantly say “That’s too hard”, “I can’t do it”, or “My mom can do that for me.” But since she’s done more on her own, myself and her mother haven’t heard those statements at all. She no longer hides behind her mom, she plays pranks and is silly with me in therapy, talks constantly, and her mom reports her confidence has boomed at home and in school as well. She’s not the only child I’ve worked with on improving independence, but her transformation is one I won’t forget.

For the neurotypical and the neurodivergent.

Thank you for providing the guidebook on Independence Therapy. It’s making a great impact on the lives of the kids I see, both neurotypical and neurodivergent, and helping them lead more independent and confident lives! Independence Therapy is such a perfect match for occupational therapy practitioners too, we’re all about promoting independence!

Thank you again!

– Kara 

How to get the Independence Therapy manual.

Let Grow here: Kara, you are more than welcome! And readers, so are you. If you are a therapist, counselor, OT, PT — basically, someone who works with kids — you can request the Independence Therapy manual created by Dr. Camilo Ortiz by clicking here. We’ll also include a preview of the The Let Grow Experience which is a full school version for K-12th. It is free. And we’d love to hear how it works for you!

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