AOTA defines occupation therapy as the “only profession that helps people across the lifespan to do the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of daily activities (occupations). Occupational therapy practitioners enable people of all ages to live life to its fullest by helping them promote health, and prevent—or live better with—injury, illness, or disability.” Occupational therapy practitioners have a holistic perspective, in which the focus is on adapting the environment and/or task to fit the person, and the person is an integral part of the therapy team. It is an evidence-based practice deeply rooted in science.
But kids don’t have jobs??
So what does that mean for kids since they don’t work or occupations? Actually, a child’s work is play – because through play and exploration, children learn.
Every day, we receive a great deal of information from our senses that we use to organize our behavior, learn, and successfully interact with the world. Our senses give us input about the physical status of our body and the environment around us. Our brains must organize this information so that we can function in everyday situations such as the classroom, at work, on the playground, at home, and during social interactions.
The nervous system, which regulates the body’s senses and motor actions exhibit plasticity, which means it can be changed. The brain may be unable to send clear messages to the muscles in order to direct the desired movement, such as jumping or cutting with scissors. Or, the muscles themselves may be unable to perform the task due to weakness or low tone. Through the power of play, a pediatric OT can promote plasticity of the brain which supports development of motor coordination, socialization, emotions, self-care, and problem solving
Pediatric occupational therapists use an individualized and holistic approach to address the foundations and specific skills at each stage of development to ensure greater success in activities of daily living. The environment and tasks are modified to allow the child to experience success at each step of the process moving them towards independence. A pediatric OT’s ultimate goal is to support development if each individual so they have the skills and tools to grow into full functioning and successful adults.
Here are a few areas in which OT’s can work on with your child:
- Refining fine motor skills to allow your child to grasp/release toys and develop handwriting skills
- Promoting development of visual motor skills to improve participation in
- Encouraging independence in self care tasks, such as getting dressed, brushing teeth or tying their shoes
- Refining eye-hand coordination skills to promote functional play in gross motor activiites/sports
- Promoting safe and functional engagement in a variety of different environments
- Maintaining positive behaviors in all environments
- Improving attention and social skills to alow for development of interpersonal relationships
- Developing problem solving and multisensory processing skills in order to promote an adaptive response in a variety of different environments.
- Developing oral motor and oral sensory skills for functional feeding
Wondering if your child may benefit from occupational therapy? CLICK HERE to view a list of Red Flags that might indicate occupational therapy may be beneficial for your child.
“If you tell me, I forget. If you show me, I see. If you involve me, I understand.”
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Hi, I am an occupational therapist at South Shore Therapies. I specialize in pediatirc brain injury and stroke, but love working with all families to help kids reach their optimal potential. Our mission with SST’s social media platform is to empower, educate and inspire families to take on life’s challenges while promoting an optimistic outlook and a brighter future.