No matter what curveball life throws you and your child, Occupational Therapy can help. Each child has a unique set of capabilities and areas needing improvement. As such, occupational therapy is available in various types and forms to help young children with developmental delays or disabilities.
Occupational Therapists work with your child to help improve in all aspects of their lives. From daily activities to involvement in specific school tasks or activities, occupational therapy encourages your child to improve their skills. In turn, your child will gain enhanced independence and confidence when participating in activities at home, school, or anywhere in their daily lives!
Getting your child involved in occupational therapy can help pave the way to a bright future. No matter what stage of development your child is in, it is never too late. Get your child involved in occupational therapy to take see for yourself the many benefits occupational therapy can provide.
Keep reading to learn more about the various types of occupational therapy activities available for children needing assistance.
What Kinds of Things can Occupational Therapy Treat?
For children with developmental disabilities or delays, occupational therapy can help improve motor skills, sensory processing, communication, and play skills. Occupational therapy can be beneficial for children with various developmental delays or disabilities, including Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD), Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Muscular Dystrophy, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and more.
While these are some common diagnoses, many children without diagnoses can benefit from occupational therapy too. Occupational therapy can be an effective treatment for children who need assistance in specific areas. These areas include attention span problems, sensory, and processing skill delays, issues with fine or gross motor skills, problems with daily activities, and more.
Overcoming Challenges through Occupational Therapy
Occupational therapists understand that children’s abilities vary greatly. No two children are the same. In turn, Occupational Therapists offer individualized plans to help each child and their unique abilities. An occupational therapist will assess your child, along with his or her environment, to determine areas where improvement is needed. Then, they’ll work alongside your child to encourage participation in these tasks. This is done in a way that is both beneficial and fun for your child.
Childhood is all about development, as children begin to grow, play, and learn in the world around them. While you might think of the word “occupation” about a job or career for adults, children have a job too! For children, development, and interaction with the world around them is a task, much like a job.
By creating fun activities with targeted outcomes in areas that require improvement, occupational therapists help your child strengthen areas of weakness. In turn, this helps your child in both their social life, home life, and school life.
Goals of Occupational Therapy
For children with developmental delays or disabilities, daily activities or tasks can quickly become overwhelming. In these instances, occupational therapists work with your child to help improve their participation in these tasks. The overarching goal of occupational therapy as a treatment is to help encourage success and help children interact with their environment.
If an illness or injury limits your child from participation in activities, occupational therapy can help. In addition, occupational therapy can be fun for your child. Through various fun games and activities, a certified occupational therapist has a unique opportunity to strengthen your child’s skills. Again, opccupational therapy provides this in a way that is inviting and accepting.
Gaining Independence and Confidence
Occupational therapy helps your child gain physical confidence and independence in their abilities. For children feeling frustrated or less than confident, occupational therapy can help give your child the boost they need. Occupational therapists work with your child in various areas, including attention, sensory processing, social skills, cognitive skills, self-care skills, communication, and more.
If you’ve noticed your child struggling in some of these areas, early intervention is key to success. Involvement in occupational therapy can help your child thrive in the world around them. The first step to improving your child’s life is identifying they need help in specific areas.
How Can Occupational Therapy Help My Child?
Infant Occupational Therapy
One type of occupational therapy, known as infant occupational therapy, works with babies to help them reach specific developmental milestones. For babies with certain developmental disabilities, achieving standard developmental milestones may be difficult. Infant occupational therapy involves helping your infant develop strength, flexibility, and reach age-appropriate milestones.
Though it may seem early, starting occupational therapy with your infant can help prevent further issues from arising. If you’ve noticed your infant seems slow to sit, crawl, or stand, has difficulty supporting his or her head, or experiencing feeding issues, occupational therapy may help.
Sensory Processing Occupational Therapy
Sensory disorders or sensory processing conditions may cause your child to overreact to certain senses, such as taste, touches, or sounds. Children might have issues receiving or processing information from their senses, which can present in various ways. Through occupational therapy, children are encouraged to process and respond to sensory triggers through various activities.
Some examples of activities may include creating a sensory box, with various objects your child touch and explore. Another example includes deep pressure activities.
Fine Motor Skills Occupational Therapy
Fine motor skills are skills that require the use of the small muscles in the hand. This is important for many daily activities, such as grasping items and writing. A certified occupational therapist will design specific activities to help your child improve their fine motor skills. For example, activities may include improving hand/eye coordination, or grasping and releasing objects with their hands.
Some children may struggle with handwriting. In these cases, an occupational therapist may help them work on their pencil grasp through various fine motor activities. This may apply to drawing and art-related projects as well. Occupational therapists are equipped to help your children with any of these fine motor skills, such as cutting using scissors, tying their shoes, or other activities that require the use of fine motor skills.
Activities of Daily Living Occupational Therapy
If your child struggles with daily tasks such as getting dressed in the morning, occupational therapy can help them in these areas of daily living. This might include toilet training, bathing or showering, eating, and other daily tasks. For example, if your child struggles with feeding, a certified occupational therapist will create fun feeding exercises to help strengthen this area needing improvement.
For children struggling with behavioral issues in school, occupational therapy can help encourage appropriate and healthy behavioral responses. In turn, this can improve your child’s social interactions at school and home.
Visual Perception Occupational Therapy
Some children with developmental or learning disabilities may have difficulty making sense of the world around them. For that reason, visual perception occupational therapy may help improve coordination through activities about visual memory, form constancy, and other important perception skills.
Some examples of activities a certified occupational therapist may use include puzzles or mazes, designed to enhance these visual perception skills.
Approach to Occupational Therapy
Before enrolling your child in Occupational Therapy, parents should understand one important principle by which Occupational Therapists may work. A top-down approach involves assessing the functional status of your child, with a holistic approach. The top-down approach looks at a child’s ability to function in their daily activities, rather than specific deficits.
Based on your child’s specific occupational therapy plan, their certified occupational therapist may develop various activities to work on. The length of occupational therapy treatments will vary from child to child, depending on their capabilities. It is important to note that occupational therapy does not come with a “one size fits all” approach.
Patience and consistent therapy sessions will ensure your child’s success.
In conclusion, Occupational Therapy for children improves your child’s ability to participate in everyday activities, both in school and at home. From building a puzzle to playing with sensory play-dough, occupational therapy offers fun and education. A great occupational therapist makes a occupational therapy session feel more like a play session than a therapy session.
At The Therapy Place, our occupational therapist are all highly qualified and well trained. We want to help your child learn to participate in everyday activities, and we’re committed to finding and creating a program that works for you and your child. If you’re interested in learning more, sign up for our newsletter to receive email updates and more information about occupational therapy.