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Mobile sensory clinic hits the road

Wednesday, 10 October 2018. Posted in Shootin' the Breeze

Mobile sensory clinic hits the road

Erin Grujic, owner of Sensory Path, demonstrates that even adults can use a latex sling, one of many activities found on board her mobile sensory clinic.   Photo by Shannon Robison

Mobile sensory clinic hits the road

By Shannon Robison

It's been nearly a year since Erin Grujic began pursuing a dream and fully immersed herself in the culture of entrepreneurship.

The Pincher Creek occupational therapist has come up with a novel way to make her services accessible to as many families as possible in southwestern Alberta and is ready to hit the road in a custom-designed sensory clinic.

While travelling from one point to another in an city setting would provide convenience, urban families tend to have services available to them nearby.

It's quite a different story for rural families who are expected to travel to Lethbridge or Calgary for assessment and treatment. For some these are weekly journeys.

Why not bring the service to the child?

Erin says one in six has sensory challenges and can benefit from a multi-sensory environment under the guidance of a trained therapist.

Converting a school bus into a mobile clinic seemed the perfect answer.

Erin used ATB Financial's Alberta BoostR program last spring to raise the capital needed to purchase and renovate a bus and to validate the idea.

While there was an option to simply donate, most were prepaying for services while setting the wheels in motion to get the bus on the road.

If financial support is an indication that the idea is sound, then Erin is onto something — the BoostR program helped her raise 113 per cent of a $10,000 goal from friends, family and strangers who have faith in her plan.

Many challenges lay on the road between concept and end result, and the early onset of cold weather resulted in finding workarounds for some unexpected kinks.

But proof of a woman determined to follow through now sits on the street in front of the Grujic home.

Erin began taking bookings for sessions on the bus at the beginning of the month and is looking forward to working with those who boosted her ATB campaign.

As the only occupational therapist in southern Alberta trained in treating sensory integration issues, Erin anticipates the bus will become a busy place.

She says it isn't uncommon for a child to be flagged for assessment and to be referred to a sensory clinic in Calgary or Lethbridge through Alberta Health Services.

Assessment is based on information provided via a questionnaire by parents, who then attend a workshop and leave with recommendations to help their child.

The clinician follows up with the parents but may not ever meet the child. "This is useful, but it's a slow and difficult process," Erin says.

She feels she can provide a more thorough assessment by working with children and parents together through the entire process — from diagnosis to treatment.

Interest is coming from all over as word of her unique concept spreads. Erin will be showcasing the bus at many events this fall and emphasizes that all ages can benefit from this type of therapy.

Community support of Erin's mobile sensory clinic has been key through the highs and lows of getting a new idea off the ground.

"It was hard to get people to take me seriously at first," she says.

People have lent their time and expertise, their tools and their equipment to projects like removing the seats, and brought Erin's vision to life once the space was empty.

To say there has been considerable trial and error in the four months it’s taken to convert the bus to a world of sensory delights would be an understatement.

"There have been lots of tears," Erin adds.

Like so many entrepreneurs before her, Erin has faith that when you build it, they will come.

To learn more about sensory processing or to book an appointment on the bus, you can phone 403-339-0664 or email erin@sensationalpath.com.