Liena – Hope for Boro Village

Whilst in Botswana, we met a young girl named Leina. Leina is 3 years old who lives in a small village in the Okavango Delta with her parents, grandparents and siblings. She was initially introduced to us as “the disabled child of the village” as she was unable to walk due to what appeared to be a congenital foot malformation. Leina’s movements around her house and village were restricted by walking on her knees, and there was significant muscle atrophy in her calves.

We spoke to the local guide and asked him if it would be appropriate to offer our assistance and take a look at Leina and her legs. Once consent was gained from her parents and Leina herself (through the local guide translating and explaining what we wanted to do), it was established that there is a good chance she may be able to walk with the support of appropriate equipment.

The Village and Leina’s family taking in what was being discussed.

Leina’s parents, the local guide and our tour guide all requested any help we could offer. It was explained to us lots of tour groups drop off sweets and books but this does not help her to move about like her siblings and peers. In discussion with the group and Leina’s parents, it was agreed that equipment could be utilised to support Leina walk and interact more with her peers. Given the terrain and availability of resources (not just physical resources, but also the ability to monitor her progress and ensure that she was safe with whichever equipment was provided), the most appropriate piece of equipment would be a walking frame. We have had previous experience building a wheelchair out of piping and we explained that with a trip to the local hardware store we should be able to whip something up in the afternoon.

Look Hear Australia & Look Hear Global – Clinical Services

A lovely project we completed over the holidays!! We are pleased to report Tyler is doing well and walking more unassisted!!

The wheelchair we made out of piping previously.

We were able to source shin pads to protect her knees while she is learning to walk (as walking on her knees is her current mode of moving around), and were able to build a walking frame out of copper piping. What was special was that it was not just one person helping, but everyone wanted to be involved. The tour guide arranged the materials, the tour group purchased the materials, the camp site management organised two workers to cut and weld, as well as transport to and from the village, and the village got behind and were supporting the family. It really does take a village to raise, and support, a child.

The Shin Pads

As a group we decided from the beginning that we did not want to just support Leina and her village for one day. Our overall goal is for Leina to be able to access education with her peers. We hope that we can continue to be involved with Leina and her community, and support the whole village in their journey.

The building…

You can find out more about Hope for Boro here.

You can support Liena here.

On The Go Tours, who we toured through have shared Leina’s story here.

Sleep Week 2019! How to promote sleep in my child?

Why is Sleep important?


Sleep is just as important as food, shelter and safety. It allows the brain to recharge and the body to regenerate. Healthy sleep allows people to function at optimal alertness.

Healthy sleep requires:

  • Sufficient amount (time)
  • Uninterrupted (quality)
  • Natural sleep cycle (circadian rhythm)
  • Age-appropriate naps

Children need sleep to:

  • Remember what they learn
  • Pay attention and concentrate
  • Solve problems and think of new ideas
  • Grow muscle, bones and skin
  • Repair damage and injuries
  • Fight sickness

Different ages need different amount of sleep:

  • Babies – 12-15 hours throughout the day and night
  • Toddlers – 11-14 hours/day
  • Young children – 10-13 hours/day
  • Older children – 9-11 hours/day

If your child is having difficulty sleeping, a Psychologist or Occupational Therapist may be able to help.

For more information – Sleep Council 

Child Mental Health Week 2019: Using Sensory Processing to look after my Mental Health  


How can I use my senses and sensory processing to look after my mental health?


According to Sutton and Nicholson (2011), sensory-based treatment has been identified as an effective treatment approach for clients who are distressed, anxious, agitated, or potentially aggressive and as an alternative for more coercive actions; they also determined that sensory modulation approaches are particularly helpful for people with trauma histories, PTSD, and self-harming behaviours.Mental Health

Scanlan and Novak (2015) did a scoping review (summary of new research areas) regarding sensory approaches; a total of 17 studies were included in the final review. A range of sensory approaches were evaluated. In general, service users reported they were useful for self-management of distress. Positive outcomes demonstrated that adopting sensory approaches may help reduce behavioural disturbances, empower staff and consumers to build positive relationships and provide simple positive and inexpensive strategies that can be used post discharge.


Alerting Activities;  are the activities that help prepare our brains and body for productivety by ‘waking up’ our bodies sensory systems.

Calming Activities; these activities are aimed calming the body’s sensory system by being centred and ready for learning/productivity.


    • A warm bath (calming)
    • A big hug (calming)
    • Sequin pillows (calming)
    • Velvet (calming/alerting)


    • A sour sweet (alerting)
    • Chewing gum (calming)
    • Something crunchy (calming)
    • Something cold (alerting)


    • Aromatherapy (calming/alerting)
    • Vanilla and Lavender (usually calming for most)
    • Peppermint (usually alerting for most people)
    • Choosing a shower gel that you like (depending on the smell – calming and alerting)


    • Listening to calming music (calming)
    • Listening to rock music (alerting)
    • Quiet time or space (calming)


    • Watching a sunrise (usually calming)
    • Watching fish swimming (usually calming)
    • Lots of flashing lights or colours (alerting)


    • Going for a run (calming)
    • Rocking in rocking chair (calming)
    • Big breath out – blowing bubbles out (calming)
    • Jumping and spinning (alerting)


    • Spinning (alerting)
    • Swinging (calming)
    • Rocking in a rocking chair (calming)
    • Jumping and crashing (alerting)

Further Information:

Moore, K. (2016). Following the evidence: Sensory approaches in mental health http://www.sensoryconnectionprogram.com/sensory_treatment.php

Key Tips:

  • Find what works for you
  • Check out our page on Mental Health here!

mental health

How we choose the websites we feature….


How we choose the websites we feature


It is important for us to be transparent about how we are choosing our websites – it’s also important for our community to know how we do this.


There are several key things we ask ourselves when we chose a website. They can been seen in this chart here:

Firstly, and most importantly, we must have had personal experience with the website or product. That could be us as a LHA team or any of our contributors. It has to be a resource that either ourselves as a team or our contributors have used, read, trialled first-hand, as well as something that we think will be useful to other families or professionals.  

We want to ensure the resources are evidence-based, however we also know there are lots of treatments and services that have less of an evidence base that have worked for others. We want to feature them but, of course, we are always transparent. This could be around the limited evidence or that we advise caution when looking into those resources – however we don’t want to discount them completely.

We, of course, we will never be taking money to have websites featured on our page – we make our money in other ways (namely treating children face-to-face – also Amazon Affiliate marketing etc), and LHA is not a paid library (and never will be).

Our How and Why – The Reasons Behind an Online Library

Topic: The reasons behind an online library – Why Look Hear Australia? 

Why did you start LHA?

I want it to be a long-term resource that I can use for my therapy, so I don’t have to send stuff to families or create things for families all the time. I want to empower families to do that for themselves and I want these resources to be available for therapists who are time poor.

How did you decide on a blog/website?

I also want it to be online or cloud so I don’t have to have all these resources on my computer – I can have an iPad or tablet for work, as then all the resources are available to me wherever I am.

Who are you writing a blog for?

Myself, other professionals and families. I am writing it and hosting it so it is a place for parents and professionals to get bite-sized, high quality information and then be able to point them in the right direction for more (expert) information.  

What types of values and beliefs do your audience have?

    • Professionals; valuing the child and family as unit and being family-centred.
    • Parents and Professionals; a want for high quality information that is easy to read and understand.
    • Parents; curious about their child and wanting to know more.

Who are your audience?

    • Parents
    • Professionals – Allied Health
    • Teachers
    • The wider community

What style of Blog did you want?


    • Easy to read
    • Simple and clear
    • Expert and evidence-based

Don’t want:

    • Wordy
    • Heavy
    • Hard to read
    • Selling things – pushy

Further information:

Find out more about us on our about us page here!

Parents: What is the difference between a melt down and a tantrum?

What is the difference between a meltdown and a tantrum?


This is a tricky question! Every child has tantrums – it is actually an important part of typical development.

Children with disabilities can sometimes have meltdowns; a full “computer shut down and restart”. This can happen for many reasons that can be sensory-, communication- or emotionally-based. The reasons will be different for each child.

It can be tricky to work out what types of behaviours are “tantrum” and which are “meltdown” based.


  • Child is usually telling you what they want e.g. “I want an ice cream”.
  • Child will stop crying/hitting/screaming when they get what they want.
  • Child looks and checks you are watching them.
  • behaviour Child keeps themselves safe during.


  • Child is not communicating at all e.g. no words, pointing etc.
  • Child does not stop when problem is fixed.
  • Child does not check that you are watching them e.g. they are in their own world.
  • Child may not be concerned by their safety e.g. head banging.
  • Child only stops when they have “calmed down” or “worn themselves out”.


  • Hitting, screaming, biting, crying, kicking.

Check out at Behavior Page here and our blog post on looking after yourself as a parent here

Why we are an Amazon Affiliate….


Everyone loves Amazon! And we do too!
look hear

Why is LHA an Amazon Affiliate?

We are Amazon Affiliate Marketers, meaning we can link to a product directly from Amazon, and if someone buys it, we get a percentage of that purchase.


    • Helps us keep our costs down
    • Helps us run the website for free
  • If you are ready to buy immediately – it is easy, especially if you use Amazon already!


  • If you are ready to purchase one of the products or books we recommend, you can just click on the Amazon link and it will take you directly to Amazon!
    • Its the second link/picture you can click on – as seen below!
    • Then purchase the item, and wait for it to arrive.
  • At the end of every month, Amazon send us a small kick back from the people we have referred.



    • We are still only recommending items and books that we or our collaborators have had direct personal experience with.
    • We will always link to the original publisher first.
    • We will never be bombarding you with “buy this here now!” from Amazon.
  • Also it makes it easy for parents and professionals as they can add to their basket immediately, after reading about it on LHA.

You can find more about Amazon Marketing here 

Psychology Week 2018! Five of the Most Common Questions Clinical Psychologists get asked!


What are some of the most common questions Clinical Psychologists get asked?

clinical psychologistsQ:  How long will treatment take?

A: Treatment depends on the age of the child, their presentation and type of therapy they are engaging in. Typically therapy would start with 6 sessions, after which there would be a review of the childs’ progress. After the review the therapist and family would make further decisions about treatment together.

Further Info:

Talk to your therapist, as this is highly specific to the  child and family situation.

Q: What is challenging behaviour?Behaviour

A: Challenging Behaviour/s are any behaviours that have the potential to cause harm. This could include harm to self, harm to others (including animals), and damage to property. Challenging Behaviour any is behaviour that may also result in the child or young person being excluded from accessing community-based activities. This typically includes education, sporting activities, clubs, and community locations such as shops.

Further Info:

Talk to your therapist if you are concerned about your child and possible challenging behaviours.

Q: What do you do in your sessions?

A: This again depends on the age of the child, their presentation and type of therapy they are engaging in. This can include therapy involving talking, play, art, and other techniques (however these may require the psychologist to have completed extra and specific training).

Further Info:

Talk to your therapist, as this is highly specific to the child and family situation.

Q: Why do you give parents homework?

A: Often parents will be given homework to reinforce what has been completed in the session/s. This is because the research tells us that when parents implement the suggestions from therapy at home, their children are more likely to make faster gains throughout their treatment. Parents who are engaged with their child’s therapy are often more responsive to their child’s needs. This means that they are often are more able and likely to identity and respond to problems when they arise. Sometimes therapists will give the parents themselves homework to help them to become more engaged in their child’s journey. This may also include being giving tasks to help them identify and respond appropriately to their child’s evolving needs.

Further Info:

Talk to your therapist, as it is important that the homework provided to you needs to fit in with what your child’s therapist is working on.

Q: What training have you completed?

Education and schooling

A: Psychologists in Australia, Europe and the UK have to complete a minimum of 6 years training to become registered under the protected title of Psychologist. In Australia, this usually includes a four-year undergraduate degree, followed by two-year post graduate study (i.e. a Master’s degree, Doctorate degree or supervised practice). In the UK, this usually includes a three-year undergraduate degree and then a three-year Doctorate degree.

Further Info for those interested in becoming a Clinical Psychologist:

APRHA which is the regulating body for Psychologists in Australia

Australian Psychological Society on how to become a Psychologist.

Take a look at our blog post about  Being Family Focused!

App Review: Why we love Theratrak!

TOPIC: Why we love Theratrak!

We have been lucky enough to know Laura Simmons from Theratrak since the beta stages of the app.

She has worked incredibly hard to develop an app focused on easy, user friendly home programs for parents and professionals; and I must say, she has done a stella job.

Laura is going to change the world with her app! We are so glad we have been on this journey with her, and can’t wait to see what else she does!! 

8 Things we love about Theratrak:

  1. It’s instant. You can do it in session, take photos of the kids doing the exercise and it just happens right there and then. There is no extra work that has to happen behind the scenes or when you leave the session.
  2. Theratrak is individualised. Each child and their family has an individual program with photos of themselves – not of some image off google. Making treatment programs individualised is something we do really well at OTs and I am glad Laura hasn’t lost this in her app.
  3. It’s secure. It is a really safe and confidential app. The app is password protected and all the photos are not stored on your phone, only within the app. Parents can have a login in to view the program, as you do as a health professional.
  4. It works on your smart phone. It is portable and easy to use, so you don’t need to do any extra paperwork as it all can be done right there in the session.
  5. It’s made by one of us – not a tech giant trying to solve a problem they know nothing about. Laura has really through this out and has done a fantastic job to boot!
  6. It supports families that are  far away. Therapists can easily update the program so that families don’t need to travel into therapy every week.
  7. It allows you to add your own activities. There are a tonne of ‘tried and true’ OT activities, but it is really easy and simple to add your own activities! I have added 11 of mine this week and it is so fast and simple. This helps you to keep things fresh and for home programs not to get stale.
  8. Families have a really clear idea of when/how long for/ and what to do. All the feedback I have been getting from using this app in my practice has been positive – and if it hasn’t, I have fed this back to Laura and her team and she is able to add it to the list of things for the next update!!

Final Thoughts:

This app has changed. our. lives. It makes home programs so much easier for everyone, and while I know there are plenty more updates to come, this app will only get better and better.

Further Information:

You can find more about Laura and her team here.

GUEST POST: What is Occupational Therapy?


“So…what is Occupational Therapy?”Occupational Therapy


Don’t worry if you find yourself asking this question when you first meet an Occupational Therapist (or even several times afterwards!).

Believe me – we understand! Our job title can be hard to understand from our name alone.

Let us provide some clarity…

Occupational Therapy is an allied healthcare profession that focuses on supporting people to participate in their “occupations” at times when these are challenging or not possible, such as through an injury, condition, disability or an undiagnosed problem. For us as Occupational Thearpists (or OTs), the focus is less on what the diagnosis is, but on how it impacts someone’s participation in occupations that are meaningful to them.

As OTs, we see occupation as everything a person

  • wants to do (e.g. ride a bicycle)
  • needs to do, (e.g. eat, sleep, get dressed), or
  • has to do (e.g. go to work)

You’ll find OTs in a number of different settings including hospitals, community centers, schools, private clinics and healthcare-related, not-for-profit organisations.

Whilst the role of an OT can look different in different settings and when working with different populations, the core of Occupational Therapy remains the same – supporting occupational participation!

For the purposes of Look Hear, we’ll be focusing on the role of OTs working with children in the community, meaning the child is not needing the specialist care of a hospital. If we think about the occupations of children in the community, these include:

  • Self-care skills; toileting, washing, dressing, brushing teeth
  • Student skills: writing, attention in classroom, organization
  • Play skills: pretend play, playing video games, riding a bicycle, using musical instrument

…just to name a few! Think about all the things your child does during the day from the second they wake up, until they go to sleep– these are their occupations!


Occupational Therapists can support a child’s participation in an occupation in a few different ways. They can:

  • change or adapt something about the child as a person (e.g. teaching/developing a skill, like the steps to riding a bike, or tolerating a the noisy hairdryer at the shopping centre)
  • modify or change something about their environment (e.g. equipment to help them in the bathroom)
  • change the way they do the task (e.g. tie their shoelaces a different way)

Following an initial meeting and assessment with the child and their parent/caregivers, an OT will then work with the child and their family in supporting them to achieve their goals. Occupational Therapy intervention may look different depending on the:

  • specific difficulties a child has, and challenges they are experiencing with their occupations as a result,
  • the specific approach used by the therapist themselves, and
  • the service the therapy is accessed through, such as public or private services.

Further information:

How do I find an OT?


Occupational Therapy Australia

  • The best way to find out how an OT can help you and obtain a referral under Medicare, speak to your GP.
  • To find a private practice OT, use the private practice directory on the Occupational Therapy Australia website here.
  • To find an OT in your local area via the National Health Services Directory here:

United Kingdom

Royal College of Occupational Therapists here.

Finding an Occupational Therapist

  • Talk to your GP about contacting an occupational therapist locally, through the NHS.
  • Use the online directory on the Royal College of Occupational Therapists website or Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), including independent therapists who work outside of the NHS.

Check out out Occupational Therapy Page here.


Book Review: Retro Toddler – Anne Zachry: Everything Retro Is Cool Again!!

We reviewed Retro Toddler for Anne! See what we thought about it below!!

Book: Zachry, A. H. (2018). Retro Toddler: More Than 100 Old-School Activities to Boost Development.book review

First Impressions:

    • One thing I enjoyed about this book was that it was clear and easy to read. The layout really lends itself to this; it does not feel like you are reading a textbook.
    • I love the alternating ‘he’ and ‘she’ throughout the book, which is something I would never have thought to do, but a great way to manage gender bias.
    • There is a clear vibe from the book about getting down on the floor and playing with your child – it doesn’t have to be expensive or have ‘all the bells and whistles’. There is a real focus throughout this book to get back to basics, which I love! Parents can be under so much pressure these days to ‘promote’ development, and this book is a lovely reminder for therapists and families alike that “promoting development” doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated.

Information Station:information station

    • There is some great information about childhood development and what to expect for each age group; something parents ask about a lot.
    • Anne explains brain development clearly and in a way that is easy to read for families and parents. This helps set the scene on why she focuses on different skill sets that children develop. Understanding brain development is helpful for families to understand why a toddler might be doing certain things at certain times.
    • I really enjoyed the chapter on play. It was well explained and talks about all things we know as therapists but often forget to communicate to our families. I will be marking this chapter and asking a few of my families to read over it. We often talk about ‘play being the child’s work’, and it is the way children learn and develop their skills.
    • Play is not just running around; it is the creating, making, enjoying, thinking, pretending, imagining, reading, building, playing with each other, drawing, and moving that children do with their time.
    • Anne explains play in much more detail, why it is important, how to do it, activities that are playful and work on specific skills and things that impact play.


    • My key highlight I took from this book was the clear reminder just to get on the floor and play with our children. It doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy, and in fact it is better (for them) when it is not!
    • I also loved the chapter about screen time – always a timely reminder. This is something we talk often about with the families we work with and to have the evidence written out so clearly is a massive help for families and therapists alike.
    • The information about how praise influences a growth mindset was eye opening and something I will be changing tomorrow in my next therapy session.
    • I also love the glossary at the end, as it is super handy and clear to refer back to as a non-therapist.


  • It would have been great to have a few more pictures of the activities, if nothing more to reassure parents (and therapists!) that it these toys and creations do not need to be ‘pinterest’ perfect.

Where to get it:

  • Amazon; for about £15 or  $15

Closing Comments:

    • I loved this book, and it was a pleasure to review it for Anne; I can’t wait for her next book!
    • The important reminder about having fun, playing with your child, using what is around you was something I really connected with. 
    • We can get distracted with all these fancy toy, tablets and games, whereas, in reality, what our children actually need is us; playing with them, at home and in the community with what’s around us. I loved how Anne highlights everyday learning opportunities for parents.
    • The chapters relating to play and screen time were so well written and clear. This will be a key chapter I will be referring parents to immediately.


  • 4.5/5 

Check out our website on play here! 

OT Week 2018 – What is Look Hear Australia?

What is Look Hear AustraliaLook Hear Australia

Look Hear Australia (LHA) is a library of online resources for allied health and education professionals. It was developed by a group of allied health and education professionals in rural and remote Australia.

Thousands of clinicians are creating millions of resources every year for children with complex and additional needs.

However, it can be a daunting and confusing exercise finding the right resource for the right child, and even knowing where to start and what to search for.

Look Hear Australia makes that search simple by bringing top resources and resource pages together under one site.

LHA’s motto is “it’s not hard to make it easy”, and we strive to make the search for quality information, programs, equipment and resources easy.

Some of our resource topics include:

resourcesiblings emotions play

Look Hear Australia aims to show how easy it is for businesses, schools and professionals to make their content accessible for everyone.

We aim to use visuals and simple language to make easy, user-friendly information sheets and books to help professionals and families in their everyday lives.

LHA has a blog where many different parents and professionals post.

Some of Look Hear Australia’s latest blog posts include:

LHA has a “Community Recommended Page” where children, parents/carers and other professionals can suggest their recommendations for the website.

LHA is free for anyone to use and there is a shop to purchase our resources.


“Its not hard to make it easy” – Look Hear

Bullying Prevention Month 2018 – Repost! Bullying – What is the evidence?


Bullying can be defined as a subcategory of interpersonal aggression characterized by intentionality, repetition, and an imbalance of power, often with the element of abuse of power being a primary distinction between bullying and other forms of aggression (Smith & Morita, 1999; Vaillancourt, Hymel, & McDougall, 2003).

Bullying can include direct physical harm (physical bullying), verbal taunts and threats (verbal bullying), exclusion, humiliation, and rumour-spreading (relational or social bullying), and electronic harassment using texts, e-mails, or online mediums (cyberbullying).


Prevalence rates for bullying vary, however research reveals that between 10% and 33% of school children are victimised, and 5% – 12% of children bully others (Cassidy, 2009; Kessel Schneider, O’Donnell, Stueve, & Coulter, 2012; Perkins, Craig, & Perkins, 2011).

Developmentally, peer bullying is evident as early as preschool, peaking during early high school, then declining towards the end of high school (Currie et al., 2012; Vaillancourt, Trinh, et al., 2010).

The World Health Organisation reports that overall peer victimisation has been decreasing over previous years (Currie et al., 2012), however cyber bullying is increasing (Jones, Mitchell, & Finkelhor, 2013). One reason put forward is that students are often aware of rules prohibiting physical harm to others, but find verbal and social bullying more difficult to identify (Hymel & Swearer, 2015).

Current Research:

Current research reveals that bullies are socially intelligent (Björkqvist, Österman, & Kaukiainen, 2000) and can have considerable status in their peer groups (Vaillancourt et al., 2003). As such, adults may be less able to recognize bullying perpetrated by students who appear to be socially competent, well-functioning individuals. Interventions should emphasise the interaction of individual vulnerabilities, context effects, and experiences with bullying and victimization. This includes understanding and addressing bullying as a systemic problem (Swearer & Hymel, 2015), and having schools implement school-wide, universal antibullying programs (Bradshaw, 2015).


Take a look our top resources on tackling Bullying here.


Björkqvist, K., Österman, K., & Kaukiainen, A. (2000). Social intelligence – empathy = aggression? Aggression and Violent Behavior, 5, 191–200.

Bradshaw, C. P. (2015). Translating research to practice in bullying prevention. American Psychologist, 70, 322–332.

Cassidy, T. (2009). Bullying and victimisation in school children: The role of social identity, problem-solving style, and family and school context. Social Psychology of Education, 12, 63–76.

Currie, C., Zanotti, C., Morgan, A., Currie, D., DeLooze, M., Roberts, C., . . . Barnekow, V. (2012). Social determinants of health and well-being among young people. Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study: International report from the 2009/2010 survey. Health Policy for Children and Adolescents, No. 6. Copenhagen, Denmark: WHO Regional Office for Europe.

Hymel, S., & Swearer, S. M. (2015). Four decades of research on school bullying: An introduction.American Psychologist, 70(4), 293.

Jones, L. M., Mitchell, K. J., & Finkelhor, D. (2013). Online harassment in context: Trends from three youth internet safety surveys (2000, 2005, 2010). Psychology of Violence, 3, 53–69.

Kessel Schneider, S., O’Donnell, L., Stueve, A., & Coulter, R. W. C. (2012). Cyberbullying, school bullying, and psychological distress: A regional census of high school students. American Journal of Public Health, 102, 171–177.

Perkins, H. W., Craig, D. W., & Perkins, J. M. (2011). Using social norms to reduce bullying: A research intervention among adolescents in five middle schools. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 14, 703–722.

Smith, P. K., & Morita, Y. (1999). Introduction. In P. K. Smith, Y. Morita, J. JungerTas, D. Olweus, R. Catalano, & P. Slee (Eds.), The nature of school bullying: A cross-national perspective (pp. 1–4). London, UK: Routledge.

Swearer, S. M., & Hymel, S. (2015). Understanding the psychology of bullying: Moving toward a social-ecological diathesis–stress model. American Psychologist, 70, 344–353.

Vaillancourt, T., Hymel, S., & McDougall, P. (2003). Bullying is power: Implications for school-based intervention strategies. Journal of Applied School Psychology, 19, 157–176.

Vaillancourt, T., Trinh, V., McDougall, P., Duku, E., Cunningham, L., Cunningham, C.,…Short, K. (2010). Optimizing population screening of bullying in school-aged children. Journal of School Violence, 9, 233–250.

SARRAH Conference 2018 – Guest Post – Working in Rural and Remote Queensland

This month, in honour of the SARRAH Conference 2018 which is focused this year on ‘Changing Landscapes, Changing Lives’, we have a Question and Answer Interview with Myles Chadwick, Psychologist, working in rural and remote Queensland. 

rural and remote practice

Hi Myles, can you tell us a bit about yourself? (E.g. where you work, how long you have lived there etc).

Hi, my name is Myles. I am a General Psychologist working in the rural town of Emerald, QLD. I have been living and working here for nearly 3 years. Previous to this, I lived and worked in Mount Isa, QLD for almost 2 years before moving here. I mainly work with under-privileged groups under funding to provide free treatment to the community and have done so since I started out as a provisional psychologist in 2013.

Why is working in a rural area rewarding?

For me, working in rural areas affords you opportunities that may not be granted within city limits. I find that there are a significant lack of services in rural locations, which means two things if you choose to work in these areas:

  1. Often, you will be exposed to a wide variety of cases which, in cities, would often be shifted to another clinician when they are slightly outside the clinician’s comfort zone. This means that you are forced to constantly expand your learning through CPD and be aware of your limitations, as the specialist is a minimum 3 hour drive away.
  2. Unfortunately, the stigma associated with mental health is strong in rural areas. This may sound like a negative, but it gives you the opportunity to truly break the cycle, to have that realisation of how normal it is to struggle in a client’s eyes. I find those are the moments that truly make me feel that I am doing the right job for me.

Why is working in a rural area challenging?

As I have said in the previous question, a lot of the time you are one of a handful of clinicians in your geographical area, which means that if you cannot see a client due to scope of practice or ethical reasons, people expect justification. In small communities, there is the importance of your name (everyone from GPs to the local mothers groups may speak about you) and as such, you are always vigilant of your practice (which is a good thing). There is a strong emphasis on networking as you need to know what services are where (and they need to know you) to provide the best client care you can. 

What would you tell your younger self about moving to a rural area?

Find a process that works for you!!! The big thing about being in a rural area is that, most of the time, processes and procedures are still being developed. I made it my goal to be a little bit more technically savvy, which has allowed me to refine my note taking (sometimes the most arduous of tasks) to become more efficient. I also have a small drawer set on my desk with readily available resources (based on what my practice favours, everyone is different) rather than having to trawl through folders or the internet to find them.

What supports do you use as a clinician working in a small community?

All my supervisors have been in different towns, which has always made direct supervisory support difficult. However, there are always passionate and knowledgeable professionals in your community. The day I began to expand my support and supervisory team from only Psychologists to include Occupational Therapists, Solicitors/Legal staff, Speech and Language Therapists, Social Workers and Administration Officers was the day I truly noticed how much there was for me to learn!

Why would you encourage clinicians to work in a rural and remote environment?

I would always recommend people try some time out in a rural setting, however the biggest hint I can give is KNOW YOURSELF! There will be times where you feel isolated, especially if you come from a close knit group of family and friends in a city (like me). However, the experience that you can get “out bush” is priceless and the time is what you make of it. Some people have called it a “sink or swim” environment, but I consider it a strong grounding experience where you see the limits of the system and decide whether you will be the change you want to see in the community.

What type of team do you work in? What about this works/ doesn’t work?

I currently work in a team with Psychologists only, however I have worked in teams that have involved Occupational Therapists, Speech and Language Therapists, Social Workers, Podiatrists, Dieticians, Exercise Physiologists, Physiotherapists, Doctors and Diabetes Educators. Working in multi-disciplinary teams can be great as you start to get a more defined view of what holistic care can do for a client. However, my advice would be – always know where your role fits within a team. I find that the main breakdown of these teams can be when each profession starts assuming the role of the other without consulting the professional in the field. Be humbled by the work of others, not assured that you could do it without the appropriate training.

Thank you Myles for giving us some insight into working in rural and remote Queensland!!

Guest Post! How to make a schedule for a child with Autism

Today we have a guest post from Meg Proctor, an occupational therapist and autism specialist; focusing on schedule creation. Check her out www.learnplaythrive.com and sign up for her mailing list, or follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/MegProctorOT for more help with schedules and other daily routines.


If you’ve ever tried to make a schedule for a child with autism, you may have started out strong and then suddenly had lots of questions. Should I use pictures? Words? What should my child actually do with the schedule? What happens when it needs to change?

This infographic walks you through some of the questions you can ask your self, as you individualise a schedule for your child’s learning style. I always recommend that families make the first draft “quick and dirty” in case you need to make changes. For most of us, once you laminate everything and make it pretty it’s hard to want to make changes.

Making a schedule can be a trial and error process. But once you make it, try teaching it to your child over the course of a few weeks and see what happens! If it works for them, you should see transitions start to get easier, and daily life may develop a new, relaxed rhythm.


Check out our blog post that builds on Meg’s ingorgraphic about Why Therapists want me to use visuals at home here.

For a range of free visuals check out our page here. 

Guest Post! Adapting Social Thinking – ISAAC Conference 2018

Kim will be presenting at the ISAAC Conference on the Gold Coast later this year.

“I was so excited to be offered the chance to speak at the next ISAAC Conference on the Gold Coast. The conference is for people who use and/or work with alternative and augmentative communication (AAC). AAC includes such methods as symbols, signs and speaking devices. When the conference is in the UK, I  usually attend and when I saw this conference was in Australia I jumped at the chance.

I love the innovative work coming out of Australia particularly in relation to PODD and I wanted to hear speakers from around the world. I will be presenting my work on adapting a methodology called Social Thinking for people using AAC.

Social Thinking is a fantastic resource and I wanted to use it with my caseload of students who are non verbal or minimally verbal. It is a cognitive-thinking approach so I wanted to see if I could adapt it without losing it’s unique essence.

The conference’s focus this year is ‘Access All Areas’ so I thought it would be ideal to present my work. I’m currently in the process of collating my work to date and liaising with Dr Pam Crooke at Social Thinking HQ so that I’m ready to present in July. Not long to go now so watch this space. I will be tweeting while I’m there and will keep everyone posted.”

The conference will be held on the Gold Coast this year from the 21-26 July 2018.

speech language pathology

Further Information:

ISSAC Conference

Kim Mears – TherapyThread

Social Thinking

Look Hear – Further Information:

Speech Pathology Page

Social Skills Page 

Kim and Tara work together at Whole Child Therapy in London.

RCOT Conference 2018 – How to build fine motor skills?

In Honor of RCOT 2018 and the focus on children and young people – we thought it would be the perfect time to touch base about fine motor skills!

How to Build Fine Motor Skills in Children

fine motor

Fine motor skills are the small movements, made predominately by our hands, that help us to manipulate objects and explore.

Children need to develop fine motor skills to help them to interact and engage with the world, as well as prepare for schooling (writing, painting, cooking, cutting).

Ideas to help develop fine motor skills:

  • Drawing with chalk on the concrete
  • Using play-dough and cutting with cutter
  • Writing letters shaving foam or sand
  • Using Lego to build shapes and letters
  • Cutting out magazines pictures
  • Eating finger foods
  • Playing musical instruments together
  • Helping out with house hold jobs e.g. hanging out the washing, sweeping
  • Playing with toys that have buttons
  • Using the child’s interests to write about or colour in

What makes it easier?

  • Playing together with Mum and Dadresources
  • Using big crayons, brushes, markers or chalk ensures children use the right muscles for the activity and are less likely to adopt incorrect grasps
  • Use thick outlines for colouring sheets
  • Smaller pieces of paper to cut
  • Do lots of activities that involve using both hands together


Further Information:

Fine Motor Page 

Resources related to Fine Motor 

Carers Week 2018 – Parents: Looking After Yourself as a Parent


Looking after yourself as a parent!



We often talk about parents needing to look after themselves, but why is it so important? Firstly when we have healthy and happy Mums and Dads it is much easier to have happy and healthy
children. Further, we know from the evidence that parents of children with additional needs are more likely to have mental and physical ill health than their peers with children who are within typical ranges.

We use the Oxygen Mask analogy at LHA, parents need to put their mask on first. That way even if the child is in crisis, Mums and Dad’s are more able to respond to it as they are well. If they put the child’s mask on first and not their own, and then the child is in crisis; everyone is in a rather big pickle!

It is easy to say ‘look after yourself’ but much much harder to actually do it!


Thinking about who can help can be challenging; we often say to parents to keep it simple. Further, where possible see what you can outsource to help you create more time for you.

Ideas of people to help outsource jobs include:

  • Online Shopping – make use of the “lists” functions for your regular shops, and work the deals so you can get free delivery. We find as a family this really cuts out time otherwise travelling to and from and completing the grocery shop. It also helps us to be more organised with meal preparation.
  • Cleaners – if you are able to outsource this, its amazing! If not, thinking about ways you can blitz clean to create more time; we do the bathroom before or after a shower, ensure the dishwasher is emptied first thing in the morning so it can be loaded throughout the day and then put on, we use a hand held vacuum to do regular spot cleans. Some families we work with have robot vacuums – a great idea if that will work for your family and budgets!
  • Babysitters – Having a regular slot once a month or every 2 months with a babysitter that is familiar with your child and their needs is a great way to create time. We often encourage families to set this up (even if it is with family or friends); sometimes just knowing you have a night off is enough to get you through!
  • Respite and support services – depending on your child’s levels of need you may be eligible for various community supports as their carers. Make sure you are aware of what is available to you in your area (your health care professional will know about this or will know who to ask!)


  • Easier said that done
  • Making or taking 10 mins every day just for you (even if it is taking a shower, finishing a cup of tea before it goes cold)
  • Outsource what you can, use that extra time for you (not for other life admin work!)
  • You need to be healthy (mentally and physically) to be the best parent for your child; this is true for every child and every parent.




Touch base with your support networks, but find out blog post about relaxation here.

You can also take a look at the Raising Children’s Network families page here.


Why do therapists want me to use visuals at home?


Why do therapists what me to use visual and visuals*  at home??

*We mean visuals as pictures, photos or symbols of something or someone.


Visuals are a great way to explain to someone what is happening or going to happen. They also don’t require verbal language to understand them (think road signs or signs in airports).

Having visuals help children to know what is expected of them and what is coming next. We love visual information because it doesn’t change and our brains actually process the information differently from sound, touch, smell, movement, balance and taste (which can all be scary). Visual information goes straight to our thinking part of our brain – making it easier for children to understand it.

Visual information does change and isn’t scary – so it is perfect to use at home for chores, expectations or explaining to a child what is happening next.


Head over to our visuals page here, and take a look at all the free visuals online. All you need is a printer (and laminator if you like), and some options (such as ASD Visuals or Busy Kids) mean you can pay a little extra and they come ready to use.


Who can help?

GPs, teachers, child care staff, other parents, OTs, Speechies, Psychologists, community nurses can all point you the right direction when it comes to use of visuals.


There is some time to set it up, but once set up they are fantastic!

Take a look at our page with loads of link to FREE visuals here!! Our link to social stories and what to do stories (which links so well to the use of visuals is found here)


Visuals – why we love them (and the evidence)

VISUALS visuals

This month the review of the evidence is all about our favourite resource in the world – VISUALS!!

There is a large body of evidence linking cognitive and physical disabilities with externalising problematic behaviours (Visser et al., 2015; Artemyeva, 2016; Giltaij, Sterkenburg & Schuengel, 2015; Poppes et al., 2016).

In particular, the literature suggests that problematic behaviour in children with disabilities is related to deficits in receptive and expressive communication (Murphy, Faulkner & Farley, 2014; Ronen, 2001; Ketelaars et al., 2010; Conti-Ramsden & Botting, 2004).


Outcomes of problematic behaviour can include victimisation, development of poor peer relationships and long term difficulties with employment and romantic relationships (Murphy, Faulkner & Farley, 2014; Whitehouse et al., 2009).

As such, it is imperative to develop augmentative and alternative communication techniques to increase engagement in, and outcomes of, communication.

A review of the available literature shows the efficacy of using icons and pictures to aid in communication for children with additional needs (Flippin, Reszka & Watson, 2010; Hartley & Allen, 2015), particularly in the effectiveness of visual aids over text and words (Dewan, 2015).

Pooley and Berg (2012) report that “simple graphics can be rapidly communicated, processed and transmitted within a large and culturally diverse constituency” (p.361), and as such icons have the ability to be utilised across multiple domains.

Pictorial devices are already being used in classrooms, and there is good evidence for the effectiveness of these systems, such as PECS, in schools (Flippin, Reszka & Watson, 2010; Lerna et al., 2012).

In addition to this, augmentative and alternative communication for children with additional needs, including the use of visual aids, has been shown to effectively address challenging behaviour, improve communication and increase positive outcomes related to social learning, peer relationships and academic results (Walker & Snell, 2013; Hines & Simonsen, 2008; Ganz, Parker & Benson, 2009; Lerna et al., 2012).



Take a look at our page on visuals (where you can get LOADS of free visuals) here.


Relaxation – What is the evidence?


This month the review of the evidence is all about something to follow on from the bullying update – Relaxation.

All children worry. Researchers have suggested that this worry is in part due to the fact that childhood is full of “firsts”, doing a lot of things for the first time (Hallowell, 2011). While some worries are


developmentally appropriate, for example being away from parents (relates to safety) or not having friends (relates to sociability), other anxieties get in the way of children functioning across different areas (school, home, etc.). As such, it is important for children to develop coping skills to manage their worries.


Broadly, stress management techniques have been found to be beneficial. In particular, there is evidence to indicate that strategies like yoga, breathing techniques, relaxation response techniques, and sensorimotor awareness activities can improve psychosocial well-being, self-regulations, self-esteem, behaviour and cognition (Dacey, Mack & Fiore, 2016; Gard, et al. 2012; Bothe, Grignon & Olness, 2014).


Below is a list of stress management techniques children can try:


Physical Strategies

· Tense and release muscles / guided muscle relaxation

· Massage

· Exercise

· Playing sport

· Yoga


Psychological Strategies

· Grounding

· Visualisation

· Coping statements

· Meditation

· Distraction

· Redirection



Take a look at Relax Kids here. They have a great portal that you can access for learning about and teaching relaxation.



Bothe, D. A., Grignon, J. B., & Olness, K. N. (2014). The effects of a stress management intervention in elementary school children. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, 35(1), 62-67.

Broderick, P., & Metz, S., (2009). Learning to BREATHE: A pilot trial of a mindfulness curriculum for adolescents. Advances in School Mental Health Promotion, 2(1), 35-46.

Dacey, J. S., Mack, M. D. & Fiore, L. B. (2016). Your Anxious Child: How Parents and Teachers Can Relieve Anxiety in Children (2nd Ed.). New York, ny; John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Gard, T., Brach, N., Holzel, B.K., Noggle, J.J., Conboy. L.A., & Lazar, S.W. (2012). Effects of a yoga based intervention for young adults on quality of life and perceived stress: The potential mediating roles of mindfulness and self-compassion. Journal of Positive Psychology, 7(3).

Hallowell, E. M. (2011). Worry: Hope and Help for a Common Condition. Random House Publishing Group

Singh, N. N., Lancioni, G. E., Winton, A. S., Karazsia, B. T., Myers, R. E., Latham, L. L., & Singh, J. (2014). Mindfulness-based positive behavior support (MBPBS) for mothers of adolescents with autism spectrum disorder: Effects on adolescents’ behavior and parental stress. Mindfulness, 5(6), 646-657.

Weaver, L. L., & Darragh, A. R. (2015). Systematic Review of Yoga Interventions for Anxiety Reduction Among Children and Adolescents. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 69(6), 6906180070p1-6906180070p9.

Why are therapists family focused?


Why are therapists family focused? Why do we have to be involved?


Therapists talk about being “family centered” or “family focused” all the time. What does it mean? Why are therapists family focused?



We know that children learn the best off their parents. That is because they love their parents and their parents love them (we call this secure attachment). When a child falls over, they want to run to their Mum or Dad to get reassurance about the world.

When accessing therapy, it is better for the therapist to teach the Mum or the Dad how to do the intervention as the child learns faster and better off them (rather than the therapist). This means that families get a better quality therapy and goal outcomes (because the little ones are learning faster and better off Mum and Dad) but also more value for money as they are able to take bits and pieces and add them into their daily life at home (which means therapy continues more than just in the session).

Sometimes parents can get caught up on having to do ‘everything’ when it comes to therapy home programs. While doing everything prescribed is awesome, even just focusing on one or two things will still be beneficial (as kids learn best of Mum and Dad).



Just be involved in therapy! Ask your therapist about the one or two things they would like to you focus on between sessions.

And of course loving, enjoying and playing with your child (whether they have additional needs or not) will improve their development!!



Who can help?

GPs, teachers, child care staff, other parents, OTs, Speechies, Psychologists, community nurses.


Love your child, play with them!


Children with additional needs accessing hospitals – What does the evidence say?

WHAT DOES THE EVIDENCE SAY? Children with additional needs accessing hospital and emergency departments. 
Through each developmental stage, children interpret, comprehend, and process the world in a variety of different ways. Children and adolescents having to be treated in hospital, especially children with additional needs, can find the experience of being poked and prodded by strangers quite confronting. Additionally, it can be developmentally appropriate for children to experience anxiety related to separation or body integrity whilst in hospital. As such there has been a relatively recent push by medical and allied health professionals to take into account the psychological needs of children on an individual and age-appropriate basis. In particular, the need for a calming and minimally disruptive environment that reduces anxiety and allays fear.

Research indicates that in addition to taking into consideration a child’s age, developmental level and temperament when children are hospitalised, there are a number of other techniques that can be used to promote a minimally disruptive environment. These can include:

· Giving the child developmentally appropriate information regarding the medical procedure

· Encourage children to ask questions

· Developing distraction techniques (i.e. books, iPad apps, etc.)

· Developing relaxation skills (i.e. guided meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, etc.)

· Encouraging positive self-talk through coping statements (i.e. “I am strong”)

· Enhancing parent support

· Swaddling for infants

· Maintaining home routines while in hospital (i.e. wake and sleep times, school work, photos)

· Creating a predictable schedule for the child

· Providing choices for the child so as to create a level of control

· Incorporating consistent play into the child’s day

The available literature indicates that the benefits of professionals taking the time to incorporate these strategies range from decreasing anxiety, decreasing sensations of pain, and decreasing recovery periods.

hospital and emergency


Take a look out some of our resources on accessing the hospital/ ED here.



DeMaso, D. R., & Snell, C. (2013, August). Promoting coping in children facing pediatric surgery. InSeminars in pediatric surgery (Vol. 22, No. 3, pp. 134-138). WB Saunders.

Moore, E. R., Bennett, K. L., Dietrich, M. S., & Wells, N. (2015). The Effect of Directed Medical Play on Young Children’s Pain and Distress During Burn Wound Care. Journal of Pediatric Health Care,29(3), 265-273.

Murtagh, J. E. (2006). Managing painful paediatric procedures. Australian Prescriber, 29(4), 94 – 96.

Okado, Y., Long, A. M., & Phipps, S. (2014). Association between parent and child distress and the moderating effects of life events in families with and without a history of pediatric cancer. Journal of pediatric psychology, jsu058.

Tobin, D. P. (2013). The Future of Child Life in Pediatrics and Its Implications for Health Care Professionals (Doctoral dissertation, Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine Oakland).

Why does therapy cost so much?


Why does therapy cost so much?


Therapy is expensive! Depending on your child’s needs and who you see for how long, it can add up.

Therapy is denfined as “treatment to relieve or heal a disorder”. When we talk about therapy at LHA we are normally referring to Occupational Therapy, Speech Language Pathology, Psychology, Physiotherapy and other allied health services.


Allied health professionals, such as Occupational Therapists, Psychologists, Speech Language Pathologists, Physiotherapists and many others, complete significant training. They complete  university degrees, normally 4 to 7 years in duration. Some professionals complete Masters or Doctoral Degrees, for example Advanced Therapists and Clinical Psychologists.

After they complete their studies they have to (depending on their regulatory bodies) complete minimum training (normally 30 hours per year). This is ongoing for the rest of their careers to keep up to date with current knowledge. This is normally partly at their own cost, and partly at the cost of their employer.

Often, therapists have their own professional indemnity insurance, which is for the duration of their career.

In most countries, titles such as “Occupational Therapist” are known as protected titles – meaning that not just anyone can call themselves an “Occupational Therapist. Further, they are registered with a regulatory body which is an annual membership, which depending on the profession can be more than $1000 (per year).

In addition to all of the above, most therapists have a collection of their own personal resources that they have either made in their own time or have purchased themselves. Depending on where they work, they may or may not have access to high quality resources.

Of course this doesn’t include any costs of having a building, if the therapist practices privately.


How can I make therapy more affordable?

  • In Australia, there are various Medicare options that you may be eligible for including Primary Care Plans (5 visits per year per person), Mental Health Plans (up to 10 visits per person per year) as well as others.
  • Talk to your GP about what you may be eligible for, as well as what your local allied health provides, as some may bulk bill or their may be gap fees.
  • Talk to your private health insurance as some cover allied health therapy – depending on what is needed and how long for.
  • There is also a range of funding available including NDIS, HCWA and Better Start. Talk to you GP or Allied health professional for more information.


Therapy is expensive, however when accessing Evidenced Based therapy there is a high likelihood that there will be some improvement. This does depend on your child, the frequency you are accessing and the type of therapy you are accessing.


Take a look at the NDIS website which has a pricing guideline. Please note this is only relevant for NDIS providers and is added as a guide only.

NDIS Website

Also take a look at our blog post – When to ask for help? if you are unsure if you need to access therapy.

When to ask for help?


When to ask for help?help


It can be hard to know what is ‘typical’ for children and what is ‘expected’ and ‘unexpected’. How are parents meant to know when something isn’t ‘normal’? Of course there is no hard and fast rule though there are some tips that might help.


  • Have regular contact with your GP or community nurse. They are often the first professionals families access and they have a good idea of what is ‘typical’ for children. Also if they know your child well they will also know what is ‘typical’ and ‘expected’ for your child.
  • Talk to other Mums and Dads and ask if they are/ are not having trouble with the areas you are. For example, lots of kids go through terrible twos and might not want to do things, however not all kids become inconsolable at the shops (everytime).
  • Talk to your child’s teacher or child care staff, as they are a great source of information and they are able to see your child in the context of their peers.
  • If you are worried it is better to ask for help. You know your child best.


If you are worried, it is important to follow some of those tips above or contact your health care professional. If they reassure you, great and if not they can point you in the right direction or help you to unpack what is happening/ not happening further.

Parents know their children best, so if you are concerned it is important that you talk to someone, as you know what is ‘typical’ for your child.


Who can help?

GPs, teachers, child care staff, other parents, OTs, Speechies, Psychologists, community nurses.


If you are worried, ask the network around you. See if they are noticing the same things you are.


Take a look at the Raising Children’s Network as they have great information about what is ‘expected’ at each age. You can also look at our Behaviour page for further information.