Have you been referred by your healthcare practitioner and want to learn more?
Occupational therapists work with children who have barriers to fully participating in everyday activities they want or need to do, otherwise known as “occupations.” Over the span of childhood, they learn to feed and dress themselves, use the toilet and complete hygiene routines, participate in education and social situations, and many other things important to their growth and development. The main occupation of children is play! Children learn essential skills through naturally interacting with the environment and people around them.
Children sometimes have barriers that can interfere with their ability to participate in these activities at an age appropriate level, and that is when occupational therapy is needed. These barriers may be due to developmental delays, physical injury or abnormality, mental illness, cognitive, sensory, social or behavioral difficulties, or environmental obstacles.
What does an occupational therapist do?
Occupational therapists help children to more fully engage in childhood occupations through skill development and adaptation, parent education, and recommending adaptive equipment and environmental modifications as needed. They are experts on breaking down an occupation into the many small components that are involved in it.
For example, if a child has delayed fine motor skills, an occupational therapist may evaluate and treat for some or all of the following:
· Hand strength and range of motion
· Visual perception skills
· Correct ergonomic positioning
· Retained primitive reflexes
· Attending long enough to learn skills
· Sensory regulation involvement
· Environmental supports
· Fine motor skills themselves
What does occupational therapy look like?
When your child comes in to see an occupational therapist, they will get a holistic picture of your child. He or she will take a medical and social history of your child, ask about your child’s routines and activities, choose appropriate assessments, and determine the strengths and weaknesses involved in your child’s occupations. They will make appropriate recommendations and set goals based on the results of the evaluation and parent input. They will also collaborate with your children’s other health care providers as needed.
Occupational therapy is fun!
Children learn most skills through play, and your child’s occupational therapist will choose fun activities that provide a “just right challenge” for them based on their needs and interests. The therapist will give you and your child home programs and education on what you can do to support the development of your child.
Does my child need occupational therapy?
Are you unsure of if your child needs occupational therapy? Simply put, if your child has difficulty participating in daily activities at an age appropriate level, they will benefit from occupational therapy. If you are unsure of if your child’s skills are age appropriate you can schedule an evaluation or free 15 minute consultation at Breaking Barriers. Parenting can be difficult even with a typically developing child, but we can provide you with tools to succeed!