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Occupational Therapy For Kids – What It Is, How It Helps

 May 10, 2015  /  Comments Off on Occupational Therapy For Kids – What It Is, How It Helps

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When the vast majority of adults hear the term ‘occupational therapy’ they immediately assume it to be a service geared toward helping people get into or progress through the ranks in the career path of their choosing. In realty however, occupational therapy is in fact a service that focuses on general independence and helping individuals of all ages become competent and confident in life’s most important daily tasks and activities.

In terms of paediatric occupational therapy, this is a service that’s generally offered to families when and where the children of any specific age may be facing developmental difficulties in any area of their life. From essential hand-eye coordination to personal hygiene to basic movement and visual perception skills, an occupational therapist’s job is to help children gain the confidence necessary to tackle the simple daily tasks and activities that are essential for healthy development.

Occupational Therapy For Kids – What It Is, How It Helps

What Does an Occupational Therapist Do?

In terms of what it is that the therapist does specifically, this will vary in accordance with the needs of their respective child patient. More often than not, the parents of the child will have approached the professional with some degree of concern with regard to one area of their development or another. In other cases the child may have been referred by another doctor having been diagnosed with a developmental issue or learning difficulty, but generally speaking there will be a clear reason for the involvement of the therapist and therefore a specific area/problem to focus on.

Along with studying the information provided, the therapist may carry out observations of the child both at home and at school as well as in a clinical setting. It’s often crucial to see how the child behaves when taken away from the formal environment of the therapist’s office, so external monitoring may be required. This will then enable the therapist to determine the best course of action for the child, which may include anything from physical exercises to speech and language development sessions and right through to physiotherapy.

Identifying a Child In Need of Occupational Therapy

It can be very tricky to formally and fully identify when and where a child needs occupational therapy as a parent, for the simple reason that all children develop at different speeds and in different ways. As such, it’s important to keep an eye out for certain prolonged and recurrent issues as while it’s common and normal for children to encounter certain obstacle and developmental challenges, any recurrent patterns could be signs of a problem.

For example, you might want to consider speaking to a therapist if you notice any of the following:

  • Your child appears to struggle when carrying out basic motor tasks, or get very tired very quickly when moving, lifting, playing or doing anything physical.
  • Motor tasks like hopping, skipping, balancing or riding a bike appear to be unusually difficult for the child, or their progress seems to have stopped dead in its tracks.
  • Sensory stimulation has a tendency to prompt an overly sensitive response – anything from texture to touch to sound to taste seems to be responded to with too much sensitivity.
  • Reaction to various stimuli are either delayed or dulled.
  • Painting, drawing and writing appear to be causing the child difficulty. It could be that they are unable to coordinate their hands on the paper, or that they are struggling to maintain a solid enough grip on the pencils or paintbrush.
  • They are making little to no progress when it comes to getting dressed and undressed.
  • Carrying or holding items for an extended period of time appears to be difficult, resulting in frequent dropping.

Of course, it’s crucial to bear in mind that none of the above examples or any combination thereof represents a clear diagnosis of any kind of developmental issue as most will be experienced by all children on a temporary basis during their development.

When to Involve the Professionals

Knowing where to draw the line is tricky as on one hand it’s never advisable to draw early conclusions, but on the other it’s of crucial importance to nip any developmental problems in the bud as early as possible. According to the team at www.integratedtreatmentservices.co.uk, therefore, there’s no such thing as being too cautious and nor is there ever a time considered too early to at least speak to a professional for a consultation.

More often than not, what appears to be a developmental issue turns out to be nothing more than a stepping stone of healthy development. But for the sake of peace of mind and of course the child’s best interests long term, it’s better to bring any potential problems to the attention of a professional therapist at the earliest possible juncture just to be safe.

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  • Published: 2 years ago on May 10, 2015
  • Last Modified: May 11, 2015 @ 7:08 am
  • Filed Under: Health

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