“Occupational therapy? But my child doesn’t have a job…”
While that may not be the exact thought running through your head, there’s a lot of confusion about OT among parents. So let us clear up what pediatric occupational therapy (OT) is all about.
Just like OT helps adults perform better at their jobs, pediatric OT helps children thrive in important areas of their lives. This includes a wide variety of areas, ranging from cognitive and fine motor skills to social development and self-care routines — all of which help children grow into healthy, well-functioning adults.
Now, you may be thinking:
But how can I determine whether my child needs pediatric OT?
How exactly does a pediatric occupational therapist help children?
Can pediatric OT actually benefit my child? If so, what exactly can it accomplish?
Those are the kinds of questions we will address in this post. After you’re done reading, you will know all the important details about occupational therapy for children.
Who Can Benefit from Pediatric OT
According to the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), pediatric OT can help children with the following issues:
- Delays in fine motor skills
- Sensory processing disorders
- Sensory integration issues
- Delays in visual motor skills, such as difficulty tracking an object or poor hand-eye coordination
- Cognitive delays, including issues with problem-solving skills, memory, or attention
- Delays in play and social interaction skills
- Difficulty in learning basic self-care tasks, such as brushing teeth, washing hands, or getting dressed
So if your child has issues in any of those areas, pediatric OT can really help them overcome their impairments. Even a couple of sessions can bring enormous improvements.
How Pediatric Occupational Therapists Help Children
Unlike adults, kids don’t see the appeal in sitting at their therapist’s office finding ways to fix their issues.
That’s why pediatric OTs strive to make therapy sessions playful. By encouraging children to participate in fun activities like board games, crafts, or building obstacle courses, their therapist motivates them to develop the skills they are deficit in while having fun.
The specific exercises a therapist may recommend to a child will vary depending on the area of focus.
For instance, let’s say a child needs help with fine motor coordination required to tie a shoe. In that case, their therapist will engage them in fun activities like painting, play-dough and putty, or rice races.
Now, consider another example. Say the area of focus is the same but in this case the child has severe cerebral palsy. Now, the therapist will not focus on independent shoe-tying. Instead, they will recommend a simple solution, such as using slip-on shoes that fit over the child’s ankle foot orthotics.
The point of these examples is that the specifics of how a pediatric OT treats a child vary case by case.
Furthermore, pediatric OTs typically use a variety of approaches. Meaning there’s no one strictly fixed way to treat a child. Therapists usually experiment a little to find out which approach will work best for the child. And even after a course is set, changes still may be made to maximize progress.
Besides treating the child directly, pediatric OTs also train caregivers. This training could be anything, ranging from teaching the parents how to transfer their child from a wheelchair safely to sharing strategies that can help in transitioning at home, such as visual timers, transition warnings, or visual schedules.
What Pediatric OT Can Do for Your Child
Even a couple of pediatric OT sessions can improve your child’s school performance, boost their self-esteem, and teach them how to better perform their daily activities.
However, OT for a longer period of time, typically one to three years, brings ideal results. But if that sounds like too big a commitment, there’s no need to worry.
You can just take your child to a couple of OT sessions before deciding whether it’s something worth investing in the long run — after dealing with hundreds of clients, we can give you a spoiler — it always is. If our decades of experience providing therapy to kids has taught us anything, it’s that pediatric OT can help children improve in literally every area of their lives.
From improving hand-eye coordination to developing fine motor skills used for daily activities like writing or playing with toys to learning positive behaviors and social skills, there’s no impairment or issue that can’t be improved with the help of therapy.
How to Get Started With Pediatric OT
You can get started with pediatric OT right here! Give us a call at (480) 787-5387 and we will put you in contact with a specialist who will set up an evaluation date.
During the evaluation, our pediatric occupational therapists will uncover any particular issues that may not be apparent. Then, they will determine the best course of treatment for your child — which will include specifics, such as what exercises will be used and how long it will take to reach the ideal results.