What is Occupational Therapy?
Pediatric Occupational Therapists view children from a holistic perspective. They use their skills to determine where delays or limitations are coming from and the impact they are having on the child's daily functioning.
OT's help children become independent in daily living tasks, become successful academically, address sensory processing difficulties, and more! They use goal directed play (the "occupation" of a child) to maximize their abilities and functional independence.
Below are 10 benefits of pediatric occupational therapy:
1. Improves fine motor skills: Fine motor skills are those related to the coordination of the smaller muscles of your hands and fingers. Fine motor skills are important for academic success, manipulating clothing fasteners, and more! An OT can help improve your child’s fine motor coordination to improve their ability to complete everyday tasks more independently.
2. Improves gross motor skills: Gross motor skills involve the large muscles of the body which are important for crawling, walking, jumping, throwing/catching a ball etc. Occupational Therapists can help your child improve these skills as they are important for locomotion, stability, postural control, and balance.
3. Improves visual motor/visual perceptual skills: These skills involve your ability to organize and interpret visual input and give it meaning. An occupational therapist can help to improve your child’s visual motor/perceptual skills as they are important for everyday tasks such as handwriting, playing, and reading.
4. Addresses sensory processing difficulties: An OT can help your child better receive and respond to sensory input in their daily environment. This may include being able to tolerating different types of clothing, decreasing sensory seeking or avoiding for better regulation, or trying new food textures to name a few.
5. Enhances social and play skills: An occupational therapist can enhance a child’s social and play skills with peers by working on functional play, taking turns, sharing, expressing emotions, and understanding social cues. Practicing these skills in a structured environment can build peer relationships!
6. Increases independence in activities of daily living: Activities of daily living are those important routine activities such as feeding, dressing, and grooming. An OT can help your child complete daily living routines with increased independence and ease.
7. Increases overall strength and stability: Strength and stability are a few of those foundational skills that are needed to complete everyday tasks. By developing these foundational skills in OT, your child will be able to complete fine/visual motor activities and maneuver their environments with increased ease and independence.
8. Improves executive functioning skills: An OT can address executive functioning skills such as attention, organization, initiation, sequencing, and memory to improve academic performance and the ability to complete daily routines more efficiently and with greater independence.
9. Helps with the use of assistive devices/technology: An OT can help to see if your child will benefit from using assistive devices/technology and will educate you on how to use it appropriately to help your child’s functional capabilities. Some examples of assistive devices/technology are adaptive scissors, weighted feeding utensils, dressing aids, or specialized keyboards/mouses.
10. Provides caregiver and teacher education: Not only does a pediatric OT work with your child, they will also provide education and/or home programs to help your child carryover skills learned in therapy to the home and classroom.