PEDIATRIC OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY
What is Pediatric OT?
Pediatric Occupational Therapy helps children gain independence while also strengthening the development of fine motor skills, sensory motor skills, and visual motor skills that children need to function and socialize in the home, school, play and their community. Our Occupational Therapists have received additional training aimed at meeting the needs of the pediatric population we serve. It is our desire to collaborate with parents/caregivers and other involved professionals to meet the specific needs of your infant, toddler, child or young adult.
Why Choose OT?
Does your child struggle with doing things that other children the same age seem to complete with ease? Are you worried that they are behind their friends at school? Do they struggle to complete things like dressing, zipping their jacket or tying their shoes the way other children the same age can? Are you worried that your child may not be developing the way you think they should be?
A child’s role in life is to play and to learn and interact with caregivers and their peers. Our Pediatric Occupational Therapists evaluate a child’s current skills for playing, school performance, and daily activities and compare them with what is developmentally appropriate for their age group. OT’s help children perform daily activities they may find challenging by addressing sensory, social, behavioral, motor, and environmental issues. OT’s help with navigating more complex social relationships, decision making skills and overall independence. In addition, OT’s can work with children and their families to address higher skills such as improved attention, and following directions.
Children May Benefit from Pediatric Occupational Therapy for:
Bilateral hand skills
Daily Living/Self Care Skills including feeding, dressing, and grooming
Difficulty with Feeding
Facilitating Developmental Play Skills
Fine Motor Control and Organization
Sensory Processing such as Organization and Self Regulation
Strength and Range of Motion
Hand strengthening and coordination skills required for activities such as cutting with scissors, coloring, writing, buttoning, using feeding utensils, etc.
Visual perceptual skills
Who May Benefit from OT?
Our Occupational Therapists evaluate and treat a variety of diagnoses that may include but are not limited to:
- Autism Related Disorders
- Sensory/Motor Disorders
- Developmental Disabilities
- Down Syndrome and other genetic diagnoses
- Cerebral Palsy and other neurological diagnoses
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Delays in fine motor and visual motor skills directly affecting academic performance
- Sensory Integration Disorders
What Should a Parent Expect from OT?
First, your child will be evaluated by an Occupational Therapist. This will involve a parent interview, observing how your child interacts with and plays in their environment, and also standardized testing to gain perspective on how your child is functioning when compared to other children his or her age. All of this information is carefully considered by the therapist in light of how a parent describes their child’s strengths and weaknesses in many areas of their life: self- care, social interaction, school, fine motor skills, strength, and play skills to name a few. The evaluation is a time for you the parent/caregiver to voice your concerns and ask for help in areas that are a struggle for you.
Beyond the Evaluation
Occupational Therapists will assess the individual needs of each child and collaborate with the parents, child, and other professionals to determine goals that target the child’s functional deficits or delays. Treatment may involve addressing and strengthening specific deficit areas such as strength, or sensory processing and regulating emotions. In addition, therapists will identify and teach compensatory or adaptive strategies such as single handed shoe tying for a child with paralysis.
Play is the ‘occupation’ of childhood! Maria Montessori said it long ago: “Play is the work of the child.” Children learn by playing! So, don’t be surprised that if you look in on your child’s sessions that it appears as if the therapist is ‘just playing’ with your child. Yes, we do play! Occupational Therapy sessions involve fun and engaging activities to promote and improve things like strength, eye hand coordination, fine motor skills, bilateral integration and sensory and emotional regulation. Your child will learn new skills and gain new abilities by the therapist skillfully guiding a play session in order to provide a ‘just right’ challenge for your child. It is in this challenge that your child will grow a new skill!
Therapists will also often provide specific education about your child’s weaknesses that will allow you to modify tasks for your child to make things easier in order to allow your child to be more independent. This can be as simple as providing pencil grips and special lined paper, to a home exercise program to help your child be strong enough to dress themselves.
Our goal is that through fun and challenging therapy, coupled with providing answers and education and programs for parents, that your children will progress in therapy, learn new skills and become more independent with all the areas of childhood that are so important for you, your child and your family. So please, ask questions, attend sessions and observe, and work hard at home with your child. They will make progress!