Suzanne Dawson – Principal Occupational Therapist
Who is Suzanne and how much experience does she have?
Suzanne graduated from the University of Queensland in 1996. She was invited to work in the USA immediately after graduating and worked in Miami, Florida for two years, honing both her therapy skills and her Spanish. After returning from the USA, Suzanne worked in Brisbane for the Cerebral Palsy League and Education Queensland. Struck with the travel bug, Suzanne decided to work overseas again and moved to the UK with her husband. She worked in London for three years for the NHS and gained much experience working in public health and educational settings. It was during her time in London that Suzanne was introduced to Non-Directive Play Therapy and this continues to be one of her passions.
Keen to start a family Suzanne and her husband returned to Brisbane and Suzanne took up a position at Queensland health. Since the birth of her two children, Suzanne has worked part-time in the private OT sector.
Experience With Children’s Issues
During the more than 20 years that Suzanne has been an occupational therapist, she has worked exclusively with children. Her passions lie particularly in the area of play and school skills development. Suzanne is an expert in the areas of handwriting development, sensory issues and their influence in the classroom environment, and the development of alternative writing strategies including touch typing. Throughout her career she has worked with children who have many diagnoses such as specific learning difficulties (dyslexia), sensory integrative dysfunction, dyspraxia, developmental co-ordination disorder, spina bifida, cerebral palsy, and Asperger’s Syndrome. She is interested in the areas of working memory, visual perception, auditory perception, and building resilience in children.
What approach does she take?
Suzanne works in a very child-focused way. She believes that to get the best results children need to enjoy and actively engage in the therapy process. Suzanne also believes that parents are their children’s best experts so she uses a coaching model with parents to build parental capacity to problem-solve functional issues in the home and school. For Suzanne, it’s about working together with the child, the parents, and the teachers, to address the really pressing issues facing each kid in all of the facets of their life.
Clinically speaking, Suzanne uses a variety of approaches within her therapy sessions including cognitive behavioural strategies (such as CO-OP), and sensory integration while addressing functional issues.
Is Suzanne Right For You?
Suzanne really enjoys working with children who are finding it tricky to participate at school; whether it is handwriting, attention in class, getting dressed into uniform, or learning how to socialise with other children. She also enjoys exploring appropriate technology for children to access the curriculum. For children who are not yet at school, Suzanne loves working with kids and families to improve play skills and pre-academic skills.