Occupational Therapy and How it Helps Children
Occupational Therapy helps people of all ages to do things they want and need to do in their daily life (occupation). Occupational Therapists enable people to live life to its fullest and gain independence despite injury, illness or disability.
A child’s daily occupations include play, eating with family or friends, going to school, completing schoolwork, etc. Some children may experience difficulties in certain daily tasks due to sensory needs, learning difficulties, injuries or disabilities.
Occupational Therapy helps children:
· Develop gross motor skills so that they can engage in activity such as playing sports, walking and using the stairs.
· Develop fine motor skills in order to grasp and release toys and develop good handwriting or computer skills.
· Improve hand-eye coordination and visual processing to engage with play, self-care activities and academic activities such as copy from the blackboard.
· Improve cognitive skills in order to plan and execute everyday activities, involving attention, initiation and planning of activity, problem solving, safety awareness, etc.
· Master basic life skills such as getting dressed, brushing teeth, eating, and using the toilet independently.
· Learn positive behaviours and social skills by practicing strategies to manage negative emotions and behaviours.
· Increase self-esteem and achieve a sense of accomplishment.
Occupational Therapy treatment is tailored to a child’s specific needs, taking into account the child’s strengths and weaknesses. The treatment consists of exercises and activities to build specific skills that are weak. For example, if a child overreacts to touch stimuli, the therapist might use activities involving messy play to gradually desensitise the child. The therapist will also plan a series of activities and accommodations to be carried out at home. If a child struggles with motor coordination or gross motor skills, the therapist might integrate obstacle course or ball activities into the therapy treatment sessions. The earlier the child starts Occupational Therapy, the more effective it tends to be.