Category Archives: General Blog Posts

Join our waitlist

We would love to invite families to our Information session run by Lize Roos. Lize is an Occupational Therapist by background and the Director of our clinic and she loves meeting all the new families that are interested in joining the Building Blocks Therapy Family. 

As a team we understand the frustrations that families have with extensive waitlists and as a result we have developed a range of other options to support families whilst they wait for ongoing individual therapy. Supporting you and your family is important to us and sharing this information with you and allowing you to ask questions enables us to support you in the best possible way.

To join our waitlist we do require all families to attend an Information session and we offer a range of day time and evening sessions. This allows you an opportunity to hear all about Building Blocks Therapy and the services we have to offer families in our community. It also gives you an opportunity to meet our Director and ask as many questions as you like to determine if Building Blocks Therapy offers services that can support your family which are in line with your values.

We will go through the following topics listed below in our Information Session as we complete the intake form together. At the end of the session families will be able to submit their intake form and this will allow us to add them to our waitlist.

  • Background about our Director and our Clinic
  • Funding Options
  • Service Delivery Options for families
    • Individual Therapy
    • Programs of Support– Group Therapy
    • Intensive Blocks of therapy
    • Family Connections Stream – intensive support for emotional regulation/behavioural challenges
    • Mealtime Management Stream
    • Assessments
    • Support with consumable funding
    • Once off sessions 
  • Discuss any questions you might have around your child’s challenges and your concerns
  • So much more

Please enter your details (not the child’s) on the above form, thank you.

What is Occupational Therapy?

Paediatric Occupational Therapy (OT) focuses on helping children of all ages with physical, sensory, or cognitive challenges to become as independent as possible in all areas of their lives. Occupational therapists have extensive training in childhood development, and through a variety of play-based activities, an occupational therapist can assess and provide strengths-based therapy for the specific areas daily activities that a child may be experiencing difficulty in:

  • Sensory: You child’s ability to interpret and organise information from the senses about their body and environment.
  • Motor: Your child’s meeting developmental milestones, muscle tone and strength, patterns of movement, posture, gross and fine motor function and hand-eye coordination and prescription of equipment
  • Cognitive: Your child’s arousal level and attention skills, initiation and planning of activity, problem solving and safety awareness.
  • Psychosocial: The child’s play and social skills, self-regulation, self-esteem and motivation

By helping children improve their cognitive, physical, sensory, and motor skills; occupational therapy can enhance their independence and development.

Who do paediatric occupational therapists work with?

Occupational therapists work with children with and without a diagnosis who require assistance with everyday tasks. Many children do come to OT with a specific diagnosis, i.e. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Dysgraphia, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, Global Developmental Delay (GDD) or children may be experiencing learning problems and behavioural difficulties, all of which occupational therapists have a thorough understanding and training in.

Where do paediatric occupational therapists work?

You will often see OTs working with children in the clinic, home, schools and in the community. Paediatric occupational therapists often works in multidisciplinary teams with other health professionals such as psychologists, speech pathologists and physiotherapists who are working towards similar goals.

What services do occupational therapists provide?

  • Assessments
  • One-on-one therapy
  • Group programs
  • Parent education and consultation

For more information, please click here.

6 Winter Indoor Gross Motor Activities

As we all know, Melbourne winter can lead to many rainy and cold days, leaving us to stay bundled up inside.

So, we have come up with some ideas to help you keep your kids entertained and moving during those cold winter days! These activities are targeted at your child’s gross motor skills, helping them practice their coordination, balance, and stability all while having heaps of fun!

1. Start your engine!

For this activity you will need a TheraBand/resistance band

· Get your child to sit in a chair and imagine they are driving their favourite fast car

· They need to hold onto the TheraBand and stretch their arms out straight in front of them, like if they were to be holding a steering wheel and place their feet on the ‘pedals’ (on the ground)

· Get them to pretend they are driving by moving their hands up and down. It’s okay if the TheraBand gets loose, just try to keep their arms straight

· Encourage your child to make ‘vroom vroom’ sound effects so they feel like they’re driving

· To make this activity more fun, you can YouTube ‘Mario Kart Race’ and place that in front of your child, so the child feels like they’re apart of the race and playing the game in real-time.

If you are interested in more resistance band exercises to help improve children’s strength, balance, coordination and motor planning, you can purchase this set of cards and a TheraBand from our online store.

2. Beanbag Toss

· Take turns with your child, trying to throw bean bags into a small container, empty bin, cardboard box, bucket or even the laundry basket.

· To make this more challenging you can get your child to balance the bean bag on their foot and encourage them to try to land the bean bag into the container.

· If you don’t have a bean bag you can use a small pillow or soft toy.

3. The Floor is Lava

· Use blankets and pillows to build an obstacle course, encouraging your child to jump or leap from one spot to the next without touching the floor, because the floor is lava!

4. Balloon Up

· Inflate a balloon and take turns tapping the balloon with your child to keep it off the ground. The only rule is they can only hit it — not hold it!

5. Inside Obstacle Course

· You can use blankets, pillows, and rearrange indoor furniture to build an obstacle course.

· You can encourage your child to jump over or on the pillows.

· Crawl, climb or run around objects or chairs.

· You may also like to add activities like star jumps, high knees, bear crawls or frog jumps to make the obstacle course more fun.

· Time how quickly your child does the obstacle course, encouraging them to try and beat their time with every attempt!

6. Indoor golf

· Place some masking tape on the floor in the shape of an X.

· Using a small ball like a tennis ball or soft ball take turns trying to roll the ball so it stops at the X.

· The closest ball to the X at the end wins!

Mel Comito

Allied Health Assistant

Getting Ready for Back to School…

Getting ready for the new school year can be an exciting and daunting time for your child.

While the classroom is full of positive opportunities, it can also present some challenges. So, we’ve put a list together of a few products that can support your child’s learning and growth in their school environment.

All products are available for purchase at our store.

5 products that will help you get ready for starting the school year:

  1. Sensory Stretchy Caterpillars

Cost: $5

Stretch, squish and scrunch these colourful caterpillars. The perfect soft touch sensory toy to get your child’s hands moving.

  • WR Pencil Grip

Cost: $3.00

These pencil grips are great for supporting your child’s handwriting as they can assist with finger positioning. They are suitable for left and right hands!

  • Speciality Scissors

Cost: $5.00

Spring assisted, blunt nosed safety scissors that can help with your child growing their confidence in their cutting skills.

  • Dirt, Grass & Sky Practice Mat – Foundation Script

Cost: $7.00

A wonderful tool for your child to practice their hand writing. With use of a dry ease pen, their writing can be wiped cleaned from the mat for repetitive use.

  • Remindables

Cost: $35.00

These are colourful clip- on reminder tags for your child’s school bag to assist them in remembering what they need to pack and take home with them for the school day.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask your OT.

All the best for the school year!

Mel Comito

Allied Health Assistant

What we love about being OT’s

We might be a bit biased in saying this, but being an OT is possibly one of the best jobs ever. Each of the therapists at BBT feels so lucky to work in such a fun, rewarding, and unique career. 

As you can imagine, there are so many aspects that make this job so special. Here are a few of the many reasons that the BBT therapists love what they do!  

Elise Gasbarro
Occupational Therapist

Supporting your child to transition to the new school year

The transition to a new school year can either be successful or stressful. Some children struggle with this time of the year as they feel insecure and are filled with dread towards such a big change. Supporting your child with a few strategies can be an integral part of helping them to adjust their new situation. This will help to change your child’s thoughts from one of fear, concern, or apprehension to hopeful, optimistic and even excitement!

You can support your child through this time by advocating for their thoughts and feelings towards the big change by:

Chatting to their current teacher to understand the transition support already in place

  • Advocating if you feel your child needs additional support to transition successfully

Organising for your child to spend 5/10 minutes meeting their new teacher at the end of the year

  • Your child can write down a few questions they have for their new teacher to help ease their feelings towards the ‘unknowns’
  • Encouraging your child to write a letter/fill out an ‘all about me’ worksheet and send it to their new teacher where they can share their likes, dislikes, what works for them, things they struggle with, their goals or any questions they may have

Organising for your child to visit their new classroom close to the end of the year

  • This helps your child to familiarise themselves with how to get to their new classroom, where their belongings might go, where the closest bathrooms are, where their new playground may be and much more!
  • You can also take lots of pictures of your child in their new environment to make a story with over the school holidays or keep these pictures handy to go through with your child through the school holidays. This will help your child to continue to be familiar with their new environment even through the summer school holidays

Organising a time to chat with the new teacher

  • This is where you can help support your child by understanding and discussing the following with your child:
  • What will stay the same next year?
  • What will be different next year?
  • Will there be incursions/excursions/camps?
  • Will there be extra classes/new subjects?
  • How much homework might there be?
  • Will there be any class rewards?
  • What are some class rules?

Alternatively, you can chat to your Occupational Therapist at Building Blocks Therapy who can guide and support you and your child through this tricky time!

Building Blocks Therapy will be running two Programs of Support in the 2022 January School Holidays focusing on these transitions, including:

  • Supporting your child’s transition between kinder and primary school (Preptastic)
  • Supporting your child’s transition between primary school and high school (Class of ’21)

What is a Strengths Based Approach to Occupational Therapy?

“Strengths-based”…. What does it mean?  

“Strengths-based” or “strengths-based practice” is a term that you may have heard your therapist, or someone in the allied health field use. The Department of Education (2012) defines the strength-based approach as “an approach to people that views situations realistically and looks for opportunities to complement and support existing strengths and capacities as opposed to focusing on, and staying with, the problem or concern.” This means looking for the strengths and positive aspects of all participants, rather than focusing on problems or concerns. It doesn’t mean that we are ignoring the problems or challenges that families come to us to address, but we try to view these problems in the context of each child’s strengths, and what assets, skills and supports they already have that can be used to address the problem.  

The six standards for a strengths based approach, as outlined by Rapp, Saleebey and Sullivan (2008) are:  

  1. Goal orientation: The family and child themselves identify the most important goals, with support and input from a therapist, rather than the therapist identifying the most important goals in their own opinion. This way what is most important to the family and child are at the core of our goals. 
  1. Strengths assessment: We identify the strengths in the child and family, and resources they have access to, to support them in working to address a challenge. 
  1. Resources from the environment: Identifying that every setting, there are people who have something to contribute. 
  1. Explicit methods are used for identifying client and environmental strengths for goal attainment: At Building Blocks Therapy, we use assessments such as the Adaptive Behaviour Assessment System, or the Sensory Profile, to identify the child’s strengths and resources that can be used to work towards a goal.  
  1. The relationship is hope-inducing: By using the strengths-based approach, we aim to give families hope 
  1. Meaningful choice: We highlight that the family and child are the expert on their own situation and experience, and value this knowledge in any intervention.  

Why do we use a strengths-based approach at Building Blocks Therapy?  

By using a strengths-based approach, we are aligning our therapists to work with families as a partner working towards a goal, rather than coming in to ‘fix’ a problem situation (Smith & Ford, 2013). This supports parents to feel more empowered working towards a goal, and reinforces the value of the family in achieving goals! The strengths-based approach also aims to shift the culture to think more positively about those who need support, and to emphasise the independence, resilience, choice and wellbeing of the child and family (SCIE, 2015). 

How can you use a strengths-based approach at home?  

  • Identify and praise your child’s efforts, even more so than achievements 
  • Acknowledge your child’s experience and repeat back to them showing that you have heard and understood  
  • Use ‘us versus the problem’ language, showing that you and your child are on the same team, working against a challenge. An example of this could be a homework task being late, and asking ‘what can we do about this, how will we solve this problem’ 
  • Comment on strengths shown by your child e.g. “you were so patient to wait for your turn, I know you were really excited to have a go” 
  • Help your child to rephrase negative statements. For example if your child comments “I can’t do that”, help them to rephrase “I will be able to do this if _____” / “It will be hard but I can give it a go” / “It’s ok if I make a mistake”   


Department of Education and Early Childhood development. (2012). Strength-based approach. Melbourne, Victoria. 

SCIE – Social Care Institute for Excellence. (2015). Care act guidance on strengths-based approaches. Retrieved from:  

Smith, L., & Ford, K. (2013). Communication with children, young people and families–A family strengths-based approach. Child, youth and family health: Strengthening communities, 91-110. 

Rapp C, Saleebey D and Sullivan PW (2008) The future of strengths-based social work practice, 4th Ed) Boston: Pearson Education 

What can I expect out of a Telehealth Occupational Therapy session?

As lockdowns continue, the BBT therapists are working hard to ensure that families can access support via Telehealth. Although this is a slightly different experience than face-to-face sessions, Telehealth is a wonderful option to allow consistent, regular OT input and maintain a strong relationship between the child and their OT. Here is everything you will need to know about having an OT session via Telehealth:

What sorts of activities will my child be participating in during a Telehealth session?

Your child will continue working on activities that support their Occupational Therapy goals as they have been in face-to-face sessions. All goals are able to be addressed via Telehealth, although the specific activities might be a bit different to what your child is used to in face-to-face sessions. For example:

  • Fine motor goals: Drawing, cutting, handwriting and overall fine motor goals can all be addressed via Telehealth. Activities that can be done from home include learning shapes and letters and how to form these, practicing snipping and cutting on at-home items, and learning handwriting and self-correction strategies.
  • Gross motor goals: Your child can participate in gross motor games such as Simon Says, at-home obstacle courses, or special challenges all via Telehealth.
  • Social skills goals: There are lots of online games and activities that therapists can use to support the development of social skills, including turn-taking, winning and losing, and being a kind friend.

How long do Telehealth sessions go for?

Telehealth sessions will go for the same duration as face-to-face Occupational Therapy sessions; typically 45 minutes.

What technology will I need to have a Telehealth session?

Telehealth sessions are typically conducted via Zoom. This program can be accessed on desktop computers, laptops, or mobile phones/tablets. Ensure that you have the program installed prior to the session!

Your therapist will email or text you a Zoom link prior to each Telehealth session.

What resources will I need for a Telehealth session?

Prior to a telehealth session, your therapist will contact you outlining any resources you may need to help your child participate in their OT session. These will be readily available everyday items, such as paper, pencils, or playdoh. If you are not able to access the resources requested, this is OK! Let your therapist know and they will be able to plan new activities with what you have available at home.

What if my child finds it hard to engage in Telehealth?

Although Telehealth can present some challenges, it’s important to remember that any Occupational Therapy input is better than none at all. Having consistent and regular input from your child’s OT is important to support them in maintaining a relationship with their OT and seeing the best improvements possible.

If your child is really finding it difficult to engage via Zoom, there are some other ways to use their session time.

  • Progress Review: Lockdowns present a great opportunity for the OT and parents to touch base, talk about progress made, and re-evaluate therapy goals.
  • Parent Coaching: Parent coaching sessions are also available, where your OT can talk you through any specific difficulties you may be having (eg. Toilet training) and how you can best manage this at home.
  • Activity Packs or Resource Provision: Your OT is able to plan a set of specific activities for you to implement at home with your child, in line with their therapy goals. Alternatively they are able to use session time to create resources such as social stories.

If you are interested in any of the above options please touch base with your OT!

10 Tips for Promoting Positive Sleep for Your Child & Family

  1. Establish Consistent Bedtime Routines
  • Have consistent bedtime routines for your child.
  • This includes setting a regular time to go to bed and wake up each morning for your child and keeping this time consistent on weekdays and weekends as this helps to set the sleep-wake cycle.
  • Ensure your child is having developmentally appropriate amount of sleep. If a child goes to sleep too early and does not need as much sleep they will wake up earlier. It may be necessary to adjust sleep and wake times accordingly to account for this.
  • Routine is significantly important to promoting positive sleep patterns and practices for your child and family.

2. Keep the Hour Before Bedtime Relaxing

  • Encourage your child to engage in quieter activities for the hour before their bedtime which are less stimulating and more relaxing. These activities can be with or without parental attention and involvement.
  • Too much activity before bedtime can cause the child to feel overstimulated, over aroused and this can result in keeping them awake for longer.
  • It is especially important to focus on calming activities for 30 minutes before bedtime with the last part occurring in the child’s bed.
  • These activities can include having a bath, massage, reading a book, picture stories, listening to music, pretend play, songs, nursery rhymes, putting animals or toys to bed, playing a quiet game, prayers etc.

3. Sleeping Environment

  • Consider your child’s sleeping environment and ensure your child’s sleeping environment is safe and soothing.
  • Optimal sleep is achieved when your child is in a comfortable bed, temperature is warm-to slightly cooler to allow regulation of body temperature, reduced noise level and making the room as dark as possible with the use of a night light if required.

4. How your Child is Falling Asleep

  • How a child falls asleep at night is often how they will need to fall back asleep if they wake up during the night.
  • Children who fall asleep without parental assistance are less likely to require their parents / caregivers when they wake at night and are more likely to be able to settle themselves and self-soothe back to sleep.
  • Aim for your child to go to bed sleepy but awake, so they can fall asleep relatively quickly by themselves in the same place where they will sleep all night. It should take children around 15-30 minutes to fall asleep at night.

5. Food Consumption before Bedtime

  • It is recommended to avoid consumption of large meals close to bedtime to promote positive sleep practices.
  • A small healthy snack before bedtime can improve sleep and ability to settle to sleep for children.
  • Avoid foods with caffeine such as chocolate for at least 4-6 hours before bedtime.
  • Having a well-balanced adequate diet also positively impacts on sleep patterns.

6. Physical Activity & Exercise Throughout the Day

  • Time spent completing physical activity, exercise or time spent outside throughout the day also positively impacts on your child’s ability to fall asleep and their overall sleep at night.
  • It is recommended that your child spends time outside, moving and exercising throughout the day to positively improve their sleep.

7. Day Time Naps

  • Daytime naps are essential for younger children depending on their age and developmental stage.
  • Extended day time naps, additional naps or naps in the late afternoon can result in your child sleeping less at night.
  • It is important to limit day time naps to developmentally appropriate times for younger children.

8. Keep Technology & Screen Time in Check

  • Avoid screen time for your child during the one hour before bed as this can be very stimulating and can negatively impact on your child’s ability to fall asleep and their quality of sleep during the night.
  • It is recommended to avoid electronic screens and blue light prior to bedtime.

9. Sensory Strategies

  • There are multiple sensory strategies which can be utilised both during your child’s pre-bedtime routine and during sleep to promote positive sleep patterns for your child.
  • This can include:
    • Temperature – ensuring temperature regulation for your child with a warm to slightly cool room temperature.
    • Visual – using blinds / curtains, use of a night light if required, dim lights as much as possible prior to bedtime.
    • Smell – aromatherapy, some children may like toys to smell like their parent / caregiver if they struggle with being separation.
    • Touch – comfortable sleepwear, satin / silk pillowcase, extended bath time.
    • Auditory – nature, relaxation and meditation music, white noise.
    • Deep pressure – massage, being tucked into bed, lycra sheets on bed.
    • Movement – linear, rhythmic movements, rocking, swing, hammock.
  • Sensory strategies are highly individualised and need to be according to your child’s sensory preferences, likes and dislikes. If you have any questions about what sensory strategies may work best for your child please speak to your Occupational Therapist.

10. Make Sleep a Positive Experience

  • Make your child’s sleep experience and going to bed positive for your child.
  • Gentle and reassuring tone of voice.
  • Give positive but calming attention when your child is in bed. Give praise, positive encouragement and rewards.
  • Can use a sticker or reward chart if working on sleep and changing your child’s sleep pattern.
  • Make sleep a priority in your family and ensure parents / caregivers are also modelling positive sleep habits.

If you have concerns or challenges with your child falling asleep, staying asleep during the night, waking up early or any other sleep concerns and you feel that your child and family would benefit from Occupational Therapy sessions to learn more about additional sleep strategies, interventions and recommendations to use to assist in promoting positive sleep practices, please contact the Building Blocks Therapy Clinic for more information.


Carly Pettingill

Occupational Therapist