OTFC+ is a service developed to support young adolescents and adults with sensory, physical, behavioural, social and emotional challenges. OTFC+ is an extension of Occupational Therapy For Children (OTFC) services that have been offered to children and families for over 30 years in South Australia.
Whilst we continue to value and support Ayres SI© as the basis for all therapies, we are Occupational Therapists and adapting to the needs of our clients and their families is, above all, the direction OTFC+ will take. It means beyond age or physical limitations OTFC+ will be able to offer services to young people into their teen and early adult years, hopefully seeing them engage in meaningful occupations that assists them to achieve independence, purpose and most of all, enjoyment in their lives.
The OTFC+ design has been developed to allow for flexibility and adaptability, working one to one or with others in different spaces with different foci.
The demand for therapeutic services for young adolescents and adults has not been met in the health division to the degree that is has for children, particularly in the private division. There is even a greater discrepancy between services offered to address physical, sensory and behavioural issues within this demographic. Yet, the understanding of the importance that physical health contributes to emotional and social well-being is abundantly researched and documented, particularly in the mental health sector.
Within this in mind, the notion that a “physical clinic” that catered for adolescents and young adults was first conceived 10 years ago. Dino Mennillo – Occupational Therapist and Director of OTFC clinical services since 2005, began his career in Child and Adolescent Mental Health, working with children and adolescents with significant behavioural, developmental, social and emotional issues. Dino’s early career led him to working within the Adult Mental Health sector in NSW and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Sector in Melbourne. Whilst working with both acute and chronic clients, Dino’s role focused toward rehabilitation through occupation. In order to engage clients in meaningful occupations Dino drew from his interest and experience in physical activity and health to support clients in being motivated and proactive in their recovery. Coupled with allied health support in psychiatry and psychology many positive outcomes were achieved by clients and their families.
So why has it taken 10 years to realise this dream?
The simple answer is – cost and time. OTFC+ is a custom built, architecturally designed space that required both overseas and interstate consultation and recruitment. The research for a facility and programs has been extensive and exhausting, due mostly to the fact that there is no other facility like this in the world. The ability to do this now has been built on the organic growth of OTFC and many of our loyal families would be justified in claiming naming rights for the OTFC+ facility. In fact, many of the children that have been a part of OTFC from a young age will be among the first adolescents to access the OTFC+ service – their parents’ dedication, unwavering support and encouragement have not gone unnoticed. Neither did the question, ‘where will my son/daughter go when they are too old and too big to access OTFC?’ Well I can finally say we have the answer – OTFC+!
Thank you to all the parents, carers, health professionals and educators who have believed in what we do and have given us the confidence to ‘risk it all.’ What was once only a dream has now become a reality – and a big one at that!