How Can OT Help Your Child?
What better way to get started with the blog than to discuss exactly what occupational therapy is and how it can help your child? I’ve been a pediatric occupational therapist for 7 years, and yet I still find myself answering the question “What do you do?” as a question itself; “Occupational therapy?” as I wait to see if the person has ANY idea what I’m talking about. And usually, they don’t. In grad school we were told to develop our “elevator answer”, the quick and easy way to explain occupational therapy before the person has to get off the elevator on the next floor. But this is HARD given that occupational therapy encompasses so many things. My elevator answer: As a pediatric occupational therapist I help children do the things that help them successfully do their “job”, which is to be able to learn, grow, and play.
The long answer: In general, occupational therapy helps people across the lifespan to be able to do the things that they want and need to do, through the therapeutic use of "occupations", or meaningful daily activities. As a pediatric occupational therapist, I focus on those activities that children want and need to do - things such as playing, learning and growing, self-care skills, succeeding in school and other environments, and so much more. Whether I am addressing their sensory skills, self-care skills, feeding skills, or fine motor skills, my focus is to help the child succeed in daily life. From learning to pick up a rattle to learning to write sentences, and everything in between.
Here are all the areas that pediatric occupational therapy addresses, but don't forget this is NOT an extensive list of the many skills occupational therapy can help your child with:
Fine Motor Skills:
This is often what people think about when they hear pediatric occupational therapy, mainly handwriting. But there are so many other fine motor skills as well:
Opening snack containers/packaging, a lunch box/backpack, etc.
Eating with utensils
Drawing, coloring, and cutting
Picking up and manipulating small objects
Visual Motor Skills:
Eye-hand coordination: catching a ball
Gross Motor Skills:
Strength and muscle tone
Stability and posture
Sensory processing (tactile, auditory, visual, olfactory, taste, vestibular, proprioceptive)
Over- or under-responsiveness
Oral motor skills
Sensory-based feeding issues
Picky eating/severe food avoidance
Does your child struggle with any of the above-mentioned areas? If you feel that your child needs occupational therapy, talk to your pediatrician about getting a script for an evaluation. You can also contact us for a free screening to discuss your child's needs and whether a further occupational therapy evaluation is needed!
Stay tuned to the blog for information on all of these areas, and ways to target all skills to help your child achieve their highest potential. Don't forget, this blog is NOT designed to replace therapy services, but instead to give information on activities that parents can do ALONG with therapy to help carryover learned skills, as well as ideas for all parents to help their children grow, develop, and learn.