Occupational Therapy, Occupational Therapy Utah, Pediatric Therapy, Pediatric Therapy Utah, Speech Therapy

Children’s Mental Health Awareness

Today we recognize Children’s Mental Health Awareness. The importance of this issue does not depend on whether you are personally affected. The truth is we all know someone suffering from mental health.

Do you understand the significance of early detection and notice the problematic signs? Do you realize the role therapy plays in addressing mental health in children?

Early Detection

In the United States 1 in 6 children between the ages of 2 – 8 has a mental, behavioral, or developmental disorder. 5 kids in a class of 30! More than half of them that have a developmental delay are not discovered before the age of 3.

Most parents think their child is merely going through a “phase” and will grow out of concerning issues. It is easy to think this way especially if they are your first child and you have not yet seen typical behaviors and development from older siblings. Each child is different, but if you are seeing abnormal behavior then extra attention is needed. It can be heartbreaking watching a child struggle.

Warning Signs

If you are concerned your child shows signs of a mental illness consult their doctor. Tell them about behaviors that are worrying you.

These signs can be any of the following:

  • Withdrawing from social interactions
  • Outbursts or extreme irritability
  • Self-harm or aggressive behavior
  • Changes in mood and personality
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Problems sleeping
  • Inability to focus
  • Extended periods of sadness
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Frequent levels of anxiety

Screening for mental health during the early years will help with intervention and is required for receiving needed services. Seek the support your child needs.

The Role of Occupational and Speech Therapy

When it comes to mental illness, occupational and speech therapists at FUNctionabilities provide therapy services for children and youth by focusing on function and independence. This includes creating goals and an individualized plan after specific testing to understand the causes of the symptoms. This helps children learn to expand their abilities and perform tasks their peers effortlessly do. They learn to express their feelings and better communicate while improving their social skills and confidence.

Strive to be the hero your child needs. Do what it takes to help them. If you have concerns, then begin treatment at an early age. Don’t delay! Without treatment, disorders will continue into adulthood causing emotional, mental, and physical issues on a larger scale. Our therapists promote mental health daily as they work with children. These children receive our life-changing therapy that enables them to DREAM, FIGHT, and BECOME all you hoped for. 

Ready for another tool in your parenting toolkit? You’re not alone. See what to do after receiving a diagnosis for mental illness.





Read More
Occupational Therapy, Occupational Therapy Utah, Pediatric Therapy, Pediatric Therapy Utah, Speech Therapy

Our Response to COVID-19

The top concern at FUNctionabilities is the health and safety of our beloved kids and their families. Just like you, we are taking the current situation regarding COVID-19 very seriously and monitoring it closely. 

It’s tough being home all day with your kids and you’ve again been able to see how important therapy is. Providing transformational therapy is important, to us and we plan to remain open for these essential treatment sessions. We will continue care and be supportive to all parents while following the guidance given by local and federal health officials.  

We wanted to share our new preventative measures and adjustments: 

  • Everyone entering our building will be washing their hands. Children will wash their hands before and after therapy
  • Our receptionist will check you in since we have discontinued the self-check-in process for now. We’ll also make things easier for you by charging the credit card we already have on file for your portion responsibility of treatment. 
  • We are asking parents and family members to wait in their car during treatment
  • Each therapist will accompany the child outside to their parents in the car to discuss how therapy is progressing. 
  • Because the health of everyone here is so important we’ve installed a  REME HALO® UV air purification system. It effectively kills up to 99% of most germs, bacteria, and viruses on surfaces and in the air. Watch the process of its installation and why we knew it is so important!  
  • We are taking the temperature of all children and staff each day and will ask anyone running a fever or showing other symptoms to return home. We understand how important it is to keep everyone healthy.
  • We are sanitizing all door handles, counters, and bathrooms during each transition (when a therapist finishes with one child and begins with another.)
  • Our awesome gym already provides plenty of space, but for now we’ll only have up to 10 people (5 children and 5 therapists) at a time. Additionally, there will be at least 6 ft. between individuals and their activities. Don’t worry!  
  • Every evening we are spraying multi-surface disinfectant and wiping down all surfaces, along with our regular cleaning. 

We work hard to keep our entire building clean and organized so kids can enjoy life-changing therapy. This whole situation is new for all of us and we’re doing our best to adjust as needed and will update you on our policies. 

Please take the following precautions in your home as well: 

✔️ Wash your hands often. Count to 20 or sing the ABC’s with your child to make sure they’re clean!  

✔️ Cover your mouth with your elbow or a tissue if you cough or sneeze.  

✔️ Practice social distancing by keeping at least 6 ft. from others. 

✔️ Stay home if you or a family member is feeling sick. 

✔️ Disinfect commonly used areas. Things like door handles, counters and tables, and electronic devices get touched a lot!  

As always, please help us by calling at least 48 hours in advance if you need to reschedule your child’s appointment. Let our therapists know what they can do to further help you at home. We appreciate you helping us keep our community healthy in a difficult time.  

If you have any concerns, please contact us at (801) 443-7775.  

We’re here for you and your child! Let’s all stay healthy so we get through this together.  

-The FUN Team  

Read More
Occupational Therapy, Pediatric Therapy

Vote for Us so We Can Reach More Kiddos

We are passionate about providing revolutionary pediatric therapy to help children reach their highest potential giving families more peace.

Tell us about your business. What inspired you to get into it, what you sell/service you offer, what makes your business stand out and how it impacts you, your community or the environment.

We learned of parents in our community struggling to get therapy for their children. As professionals we hated to hear of long wait lists, short treatment plans, and no child-centered models. For 18 months we traveled the country to get advanced knowledge and skills and met with other clinic owners. We poured everything we had in to what we knew the children in our community deserved. Now consistent, life-changing therapy is available to these kids, and they love it! But our journey is not over.

How would you use the FedEx Small Business Grant money to make a significant impact on your business?

Many parents are limited in their ability to provide for their kids because of insurance and finances. To help these families we offer discounts and are creating therapy groups. However, as the sole financers of a young company, we need help. The FedEx grant money would allow us to expand our space for groups and offer financial assistance programs, so children are no longer victims of their circumstances and can receive FUN, effective therapy. Please help us reach more kids!

Learn about our journey so far . . .
Read More
Children with Autism
Autism, Occupational Therapy, Pediatric Therapy, Speech Therapy

Children with Autism Should Not Have to Wait


Why Are Children with Autism Having to Wait?

In Utah, 1 in 54 children are diagnosed with autism that is approximately 5,700 children under the age of 18 in Salt Lake County alone. Experts recommend that children with autism receive up to 25 hours of structured intervention a week. The Daily Harold recently reported “There’s also a deficit of people in Utah County who can help people with autism, whether it’s through diagnosis or treatment.” They went on to quote Teresa Cardon, director of the Melisa Nellesen Autism Center at Utah Valley University saying “We cannot service all the children in our state right now.” It is for this reason that Kaylyn and I created FUNctionabilities, while we do treat children with autism we also see children with a variety of difficulties.

We were tired of waiting for children to be seen for therapy!   We did not feel that is was acceptable to make our children wait up to 5 months to be seen! We were frustrated with not being able to refer our patients to skilled outpatient therapy where they can be seen quickly and efficiently to enhance what we were doing with them in the schools. Within our community there are very few options for pediatric outpatient therapy and even fewer that have extensive training and the equipment to treat the difficulties many of our children face today. We spent a year and a half traveling the country meeting with other private practice owners and getting additional training to further boost our skills and ensure that the treatment we provide is cutting-edge.

We created FUNctionabilities so that we can help children get in to therapy quicker and promise to have an appointment available for an evaluation within two weeks of your call. We are also prepared to offer both weekly treatments and intensive treatments (2 or more times per week). [Stay tuned for the next blog in this series that further explains why we built our treatment model on frequent therapy visits.]

Eric Peacock from My Autism Team polled 8,000 parents of children with autism and found “The therapies parents reported as working best for their children, rank-ordered by percent of mentions: 1. Occupational Therapy and 2. Speech Therapy.” We built our treatment model on the foundation of the effectiveness of these types of therapy but look forward to adding other disciplines to our clinic as we try to meet the different needs of our community. Currently we offer occupational therapy, sensory integration therapy, feeding therapy, and speech therapy.

Even though occupational therapy is listed as one of the most effective treatments for autism, Karen Hyche reported that “Physicians refer least often for children exposed to drugs in utero and for concerns of autism spectrum disorder. This is of great concern. Autism is one of the most costly disorders. . . . These lifetime costs could likely be reduced simply by referring a child.” What we are finding is that physicians do not know what occupational therapists can do.

To reiterate, people in general simply do not know what occupational therapists can do. For example, parents often think their child is receiving occupational therapy and/or speech therapy in the school so he or she does not need anything else. However, Daily Harold reported “Public schools do what they can, but have to work with limited capacity, funding and training.” The following chart should help summarize the similarities and the differences:


While this chart lists off several differences, this is not to minimize what therapist do in the school setting but to show how both are often needed to provide children with the best care and effect the most change in their lives.

Be wary of . . .

any place that claims they have all the answers and offers a quick fix. What works best for one child may not work at all for another child or may need to be significantly personalized to meet the needs of each child.


Look for a pediatric clinic that specializes in your child’s areas of concern. Be sure that those delivering treatment are appropriately trained to do so, not only by having advanced degrees but also have pursued extra training.

Contributed By: August Quaife, MOTR/L






Read More
Occupational Therapy, Pediatric Therapy

Are Physicians Referring Children to Occupational Therapy?


I have worked in several different pediatric settings as an occupational therapist such as: acute mental health, long-term mental health, home health, and school systems. One thing has remained true across all of these settings; other health care professionals have very little idea what I, as an occupational therapist do and furthermore, why I do what I do. It has been necessary in my career to educate and demonstrate how occupational therapy (OT) can play a vital role on a child’s treatment team. Occupational therapy is a health science that focuses on improving a child’s ability to function is his daily life. A child’s main areas of functioning include: dressing, eating, sleeping, learning, and playing. Although I have training in assisting children in improving in these and other areas, I have often had to educate other health care professionals about my role. Among other things, I’ve had to explain that I use play in therapy because that is how children typically learn and develop. In the end, I have been fortunate enough to have the physicians and other health care professionals I work with come to understand the importance of what I do and the value that it brings to the children with which I work.

Do physicians know when it is appropriate to refer to OT?

A study published in Advance Healthcare magazine by Karen Hyche (2011) reviewed patient charts and discovered that 70% of the children who had been referred to speech or physical therapy also required OT; but were not referred.   This startling statistic demonstrates that many children are not receiving all the necessary services, which likely slows down their progress. It appears from this that physicians may not understand the depth of occupational therapy’s scope of practice and when to refer to us. This article led me to do my own informal survey of a few doctors to see what they know about OT and if they refer out appropriately.

Dr. Michelle Clark, of North Carolina, reported that she would have learned very little about OT while in medical school if she had not had a roommate who was attending OT school. Dr. Tyler Haberle, of Saint George, explained to me that physicians receive very little training into the domain of other health care professionals. He said, “Even though he attended a top 10 medical school and residency, his only training about my profession was that occupational therapists are the ones who come see your inpatients who you think need skilled nursing facilities or home health.”

Hyche (2011) found that children most often referred to OT had a diagnosis of developmental delay or delayed motor skills. She discovered that the diagnosis that was referred the least often to OT was Autism spectrum disorders. This is alarming to me since I have been trained in Ayres Sensory Integration and understand the vital importance of addressing sensory deficits in children with Autism and other similar diagnoses.

What can you, as a parent do for your child?

I believe that you, the parent, know your child and your family the best and are a vital part of your child’s progress and treatment. You will be your child’s best advocate. Find reputable sources and research to justify your position. Present this information as a reason you think OT will help your child. My role is to use my expertise, get specialized training, stay up on the most recent evidence-based practice, and incorporate the specific needs of your child and your family into my plan of care resulting in faster progress.

In seeking an OT be wary of therapists that do not have specialized training, who only treat one aspect of your child’s life, use only one method, treat each child in the same manner, or if your child doesn’t appear to be interested in or engaged in therapy sessions.

At FUNctionabilities we believe in getting specialized training beyond what we learned in school to stay on the cutting edge of what treatments are most effective for the children that we treat. Beyond sensory integration, we have training in the following areas: feeding, grooming, fine motor (doing shirt buttons, handwriting), cognitive (thinking, planning), gross motor, vision training, and other areas. This allows us to be comprehensive in our assessment and treatment of the many facets of your child’s life. An administrator at a hospital where I received a commendation from the governor said that neuropsychologists know how to explain what is causing the problem and the occupational therapists know how to treat it.

Contributed By: Kaylyn Ellis, MOTR/L


Hyche, K (2011). Advance Healthcare Network online. http://occupational-therapy.advanceweb.com/Archives/Article-Archives/Are-Pediatricians-Appropriately-Referring-Children-to-OT.aspx

To read more about Dr. Tyler Haberle you can check out his blog: https://toughpills.wordpress.com/

Dr. Michelle Clark is a doctor of osteopathic medicine in North Carolina.

Read More
Occupational Therapy, Pediatric Therapy

Should My Child Receive Occupational Therapy in School and an Outpatient Clinic?


As an occupational therapist with experience in school-based therapy and now, my own private outpatient pediatric therapy clinic, I am uniquely qualified to explain the difference between the treatment in both settings.

Therapeutic Approaches Used in Each Setting

Occupational therapy (OT) in a school uses what we call a “top down” approach in which the therapist looks at the child’s needs within the school environment, basic factors that may affect their performance, and how to help the child better participate in school activities. On the other hand, outpatient therapy is a “bottom up” approach in which the therapist addresses the needs of the child in all of their environments, specific factors that are causing the difficulties, and focuses on remediation (actually correcting or improving the deficits). Both therapy approaches aim to improve function and success.

Therapeutic Focus of Each Setting

Therapy that occurs in the school must focus only on factors that affect school functioning. School-based therapy can reach beyond simple gross or fine motor skills (if the particular school allows it) to include things such as; social skills, transitions, and feeding (only within the confines of access to food or motor aspects-not picky or problem feeders). In outpatient therapy the focus can be more broad to include any factor that affect your child’s performance such as: clumsiness, poor attention, lacks confidence, problem feeders, difficulty with dressing, sensory processing deficits, and more.

What Treatment Looks Like in Each Setting

Another factor to keep in mind is that the more treatment a child receives, the quicker the progress. Typically, in a school setting, a child is seen by an OT aide for 30 minutes a week or less and only an occupational therapist once a month or less. Additionally, the focus is on adaptation or habit building. In outpatient therapy, children are seen by an occupational therapist or occupational therapy assistance at each and every visit. Outpatient visits should occur at least weekly with the added option of intensives (therapy visits 2 or more times a week) that allows for quicker progress with lasting neurological and behavioral changes. Therapy intensives is a very effective means to reach more pressing goals faster, followed by therapy once or twice a week to continue to work on less pressing deficits.

Each Setting Can Be Complementary

When your child has both therapies, they complement one another since the school-based OT will work on making quicker changes to improve function and the outpatient OT will work on improving neurological and behavioral changes that can be long-lasting. The outpatient therapist will help to remediate the deficits/difficulties that affect your child’s life so that they become less significant or obsolete and life becomes easier moving forward.

If you feel your child could benefit from outpatient occupational therapy find a clinic near you, get your child assessed, and help your child get the therapy they deserve. As you seek for an outpatient pediatric therapy clinic be wary of long waiting lists, therapy that will only occur less than weekly, or clinics that have a one-size-fits-all approach.

For more information:



Contributed By: Kaylyn Ellis, MOTR/L

Read More