WHAT IS OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY FOR CHILDREN?
Occupational therapy (OT) helps children to develop the skills of daily living necessary to function at home, school, and play. It supports their ability to be successful at the “job” of being a kid, which is to play and learn! Occupational therapy may target:
- Fine Motor Development: Grasping a pencil, handwriting, cutting with scissors, keyboarding
- Visual Motor Skills: Copying from the board, completing assignments accurately, doing puzzles
- Oral Motor Skills & Feeding: Safely chewing and swallowing, drinking independently, eating with utensils, bottle feeding, expanding the diet of a picky eater
- Sensory Processing & Integration: Responding normally to everyday experiences, improving balance and coordination, managing sensory “defensiveness” or other sensory issues
- Self-Care Skills : Tying shoes, buttoning shirts, brushing teeth, bathing, dressing, toileting
OT treatment begins with a child-specific evaluation based on parent/teacher concerns, and typically includes caregiver interview, standardized assessment, and play-based assessment to determine a child’s therapy needs.
OT’s use a variety of strategies: targeting specific skills to remediate delays, adapting activities to facilitate success, and collaborating with family and caregivers to modify the child’s environment to promote achievement of challenging tasks. OT’s are skilled at constructing “just-right challenges” to build on a child’s strengths, creating opportunities for success to boost self-esteem while gently facilitating progressive skill development. There is an emphasis on family and team consultation to provide daily interventions that maximize the child’s development and participation.