Many people ask “why does a child need occupational therapy? They don’t have jobs.” In fact, children do have jobs! Their job is to learn and grow into successful adults that can function in the community. They are students, artists, dancers, athletes, etc. Each of these jobs require motor skills, visual perceptual skills, and the ability to process sensory information. Parents and/or teachers often recognize when a child is having difficulty performing one of their jobs (i.e. slow to develop motor skills, difficulty with writing in school, having extreme meltdowns/upsets over what should be minor events, etc). It is important to address these concerns as they come up. Developmental skills build on each other and early intervention is key!
Occupational Therapists can assist children in many areas. OT's can address motor, cognitive, social, and sensory skills to ensure maximum independence with age appropriate activities. 'Occupation' as it relates to a child may include: play, participation at home and/or school, daily activities (i.e.: dressing, participation for meal time), and learning.
Occupational therapists work with a variety of conditions including (but not limited to) the following:
ADHD: These children may have trouble paying attention, controlling behaviors, and can be overly active. OT’s can implement suggestions and home modifications to help with behavior and suggest activities that help meet the activity demands that the child has. We can offer suggestions for school to help the child attend and offer modifications in the classroom to promote a positive learning environment.
Autism: Diagnosis of Autism is now at 1 in 68 children. This is a spectrum disorder and affects each individual differently. OT’s can support motor skill development, address sensory concerns, support social skill growth, and implement modifications to increase independence at home and school.
Sensory Processing Disorder: Sensory processing is the way in which you receive, process, and interpret sensory information (i.e. auditory input). Children with difficulties processing sensory information often respond inappropriately to sensory information. OT’s work on a neurological level to help your child process sensory information more appropriately. This is NOT done by desensitization; OT’s work with your child’s strengths and likes (in a playful setting) to slowly increase their threshold to non-preferred stimuli.
Down syndrome: Is a genetic condition affecting 1 in every 691 babies born in the US. OT’s support motor development (including fine and gross motor skills), assist in improving independence with self-care skills (i.e. feeding, dressing, etc), and provide support and modifications at home and in the classroom setting to ensure maximum independence.
Cerebral Palsy: Most signs of CP appear before a child reaches 3 years old and affect body movement and muscle coordination. OT’s offer strengthening and stretching to improve function and stability, assist in simplifying activities to increase independence with tasks, and support overall independence at home and school.
Infant Torticollis: Is a tightening of the muscles in the neck causing a tilted head or difficulty turning his/her head. OT’s facilitate stretching and movement to relieve the tension in the neck and support proper motor skill development (i.e. rolling, tolerating ‘tummy time’, crawling, etc).