What is Occupational Therapy?
The purpose of pediatric occupational therapy is to help children navigate the world around them with the goal of survival and independence. For babies, these activities include basic suckling and being able to lift their head. As the child grows, daily activities include movement, getting dressed, eating solids and very importantly, play. It is through play that a child practices their motor skills in a coordinated effort to interact with their world. When there is a delay in motor skills, the child’s ability to explore and manage their environment and learn is impacted. Beyond these basic skills is the desire to see children thrive in social interactions, sports, games, jobs, academics. The role of an occupational therapist is to support any gap in these milestones.
In addition to learning motor skills, a child must also develop their emotional responses to the world around them. This emotional development is referred to as sensory processing and emotional regulation. When there are delays in motor skills, or a struggle with sensory processing, the child’s ability to explore and manage their environment and learn is impacted.
Signs that your child might benefit from Pediatric Occupational Therapy:
Difficulty achieving age-appropriate milestones – if your 1-year-old is not crawling yet or your 2-year old is not walking steady, these are indication there may be a delay. This delay prevents further learning that is gained from being in the world and interacting. The goal of Occupational Therapy is to help kids learn to move and explore their surroundings.
Trouble with gross motor skills – If your child experiences difficulty with their balance, strength, endurance or their coordination, then occupational therapy can be beneficial with strengthening these motor skills. Therapy can help with a child’s ability to walk, run, hop and other daily activities. Later on in life, such deficits can hold kids back from participating in sports or play at recess, which can affect their self-esteem. It’s important to tackle these issues early on with the help of an occupational therapist.
Issues with fine motor skills – Children that have trouble with fine motor skills typically have a difficult time with simple tasks such as drawing, using scissors or even their utensils. These fine motor delays also cause difficulty with handwriting, a barrier to learning and expressing.
Sensory processing problems – If you that notice your child tends to overreact to touch, taste, sounds or smells, these are common signs, that there could be sensory processing issues. Occupational Therapy can help with sensitivity to these senses using different exercises.
When children experience challenges in any of these areas it affects their ability to become independent in daily life. Our team of Occupational Therapists will first evaluate the child’s abilities, the challenges they are having and the external factors such as the environment. We then work closely with family members and school teams to create solutions. Our goal is to empower the child or adjust the environment as needed. We strive to help kids navigate and move about the world successfully.