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Go Ask Mom

Go Ask Mom

Skill by Skill: New group program to help kids with fine motor, sensory skills

Posted July 9

The Raleigh moms and occupational therapists are launching Skill By Skill, which will provide programs for young children.

Azure Cutter and Miel Binford bonded over babies, sleep deprivation and the challenges of transitioning from full-time occupational therapists to first-time moms, Cutter tells me.

The two, both Raleigh moms, met in 2013 when they both were attending Fit4Mom workout classes and became friends. Cutter has three boys, ages 4 months, 3 and 4. Binford has two boys, ages 2 and 4, along with a 13-year-old stepdaughter.

After a few years of friendship, the two now are launching a business venture. Skill by Skill will provide therapeutic fine motor and sensory skill training to preschoolers in a play-based group setting. Groups will be run by registered and licensed occupational therapists. Sessions are scheduled to start this fall.

I checked in with Cutter to learn more about the programs that they will offer. Cutter and Binford will be at our event from 10 a.m. to noon, Tuesday, July 11, at North Hills' Midtown Park with activities for kids and more information for parents.

Here is a Q&A with more information about the programs they will offer as part of Skill by Skill.

Go Ask Mom: Tell us about Skill by Skill. Why you launched it, what you do?

Azure Cutter: Skill by Skill is a new way of approaching therapy. We are offering skilled therapy services in a small group setting. This allows us to provide services at less cost to parents (nearly 50 percent less than the average traditional therapy co-pay) while providing kids with all the benefits of group therapy. Our focus is on fine motor skills, sensory skills and social/life skills. Any child can benefit. We plan to add more focus areas in the future.

We launched Skill by Skill to provide an alternative to traditional therapy or to supplement services for a child already in traditional therapy. We wanted to provide a lower cost to parents and an increased benefit to children. We know many moms whose co-pays for therapy continue to rise while their covered services and allowed visits continue to decrease. We also know moms whose kids don’t qualify for insurance to cover therapy because their deficits are not severe enough.

GAM: What are some of the common worries that you hear from parents?

AC: Most parents worry that their child is falling behind or won’t be prepared for kindergarten. Many are worried about meeting their child’s sensory needs or their child fitting in during social situations.

The increase in number of children needing therapy combined with increased demands placed on young children in preschool and kindergarten settings make giving your kids every advantage a priority for many parents.

We also commonly hear concerns that therapy cost is so high, especially if therapy is recommended more than once a week and that sometimes there is a wait to get appointments because demand is so high.

Even parents with children that are developing typically have concerns about their child lagging in a certain area and we can help with that as well.

GAM: How can occupational therapy help kids - even very young ones?

AC: Occupational therapy is a holistic therapy routed in science. The first thing we learn in school is that in order to maximize a person’s potential you need to look at the whole picture and the whole person. Then you address the individual deficits that are affecting that person’s life skills.

Life skills for kids are playing, social interactions with friends and participating in age appropriate structured activities. Occupational therapy addresses the components kids need to realize these skills including sensory integration, fine motor skills, visual perceptual skills, social skills, balance and many others.

These skills all start at birth. We continue to build on them through childhood and our lives. The younger you recognize a missing building block and work to replace it the more successful you will be.

GAM: How can kids benefit from participating in these small groups?

AC: A group setting is fabulous for children. They learn so much from peer interactions and most children will strive to perform better in a group of peers. The group meeting also allows for activities that cannot be done in one-on-one settings like role play and games that are essential for success in the main work of childhood … play.

GAM: What's your hope for your business?

AC: Right now, we are hoping to generate interest to fill sessions for fine motor skills, sensory skills and social/life skills. We hope to provide peace of mind and decrease cost to parents and help children achieve their highest level of life skills.

In the future, we plan to expand to offer more focus areas (visual perceptual, feeding therapy and low vision) and possibly branch out to include other therapies (speech therapy and physical therapy). This way we can encompass the whole child to provide the most benefit.

Go Ask Mom features local moms every Monday.

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