WHAT IS OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY?
Pediatric occupational therapists evaluate and treat children who are having difficulty participating in meaningful activities (or “occupations”) relevant to their daily lives. This includes playing, learning, paying attention, participating in sports, self-care (getting dressed, feeding), and being a friend.
Occupational therapy treatment often focuses on improving a child’s development in the areas of fine motor skills (handwriting, cutting with scissors, taking notes in the classroom, manipulating fasteners such as buttons), play skills, social skills, and self-care skills (dressing, feeding).
Below is a list of common problems treated by an occupational therapist:
- FINE MOTOR DELAYS: difficulty with handwriting and cutting skills, buttoning a shirt or pants, using an appropriate grasp to hold a pencil
- SELF-CARE DELAYS: difficulty with feeding skills which includes eating a variety of foods, using a spoon/fork/knife appropriately, and drinking from a cup, straw; difficulty with dressing and grooming
- BILATERAL COORDINATION DELAYS: difficulty using both sides of the body together to perform a task such as tying shoes, throwing/catching a ball, pumping a swing, riding a bike, and jumping jacks.
- VISUAL PERCEPTUAL DISORDERS: difficulty organizing visual information from the environment in order to perform a task (putting a puzzle together, copying notes from the board/paper)
- SENSORY PROCESSING DISORDERS: difficulty responding appropriately to different sensory experiences (touch, movement, taste, sound) which interferes with the ability to perform daily activities
- DECREASED STRENGTH & COORDINATION: difficulty performing age-appropriate weight bearing movements (wheelbarrow walk) and holding body positions against gravity (Superman), poor posture, leans while sitting or standing, seems clumsy, awkward, and uncoordinated
- POOR ORGANIZATION & BEHAVIOR: difficulty paying attention, following verbal directions, and staying on task, impulsive, distractible, easily frustrated, inflexible with changes in routine, moves slowly and takes a long time to complete tasks