How Does Occupational Therapy Help Children?
Occupational therapy helps to develop and strengthen fine motor skills, such as learning to tie shoelaces, writing, cutting, and using utensils. For children, their only “occupation” is playing and going to school, so their therapy focuses solely on the skills they will need in class and on the playground. The techniques and therapies used to teach children these skills may seem just like they are playing, however, they are specially designed to target any areas of difficult or delay. The goal of occupational therapists is to help children become independent in a variety of areas of their lives. An occupational therapists provide fun and positive activities to help children improve their physical, motor, and cognitive skills. Occupational therapists work hard to build the child’s sense of accomplishment and self-esteem.
Does Your Child Need Occupational Therapy?
If you are unsure if your child should participate in occupational therapy, here is a list of medical conditions that would benefit from having this therapy:
- Birth defects or injuries
- Integrative or sensory disorders
- Brain or spinal cord traumatic injuries
- Mental illness or behavioral problems
- Delays in development
- Post-surgical conditions
- Severe hand injuries
- Multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, and similar chronic illnesses
Your child’s fine motor skills will be worked on throughout occupational therapy. This will assist them with learning to grab and release toys as well as learn handwriting skills. Hand-eye coordination is another main focus during occupational therapy, which will assist with hitting a ball or seeing the blackboard and copying what’s written in class.
An occupational therapist can also work on the following with your child:
- For a child with developmental delays, an occupational therapist can work with them on how to take a bath, brush their teeth and hair, feed themselves, and get dressed. These skills will help them learn to be independent.
- An occupational therapist can help them learn to control behavior disorders as well as positive ways to deal with anger.
- An occupational therapist can help improve sensory and attention issues which will therein improve social skills and focus.
- For a child with physical disabilities, an occupational therapist can teach them how to use a computer, feed themselves, increase speed, and work of the legibility of their handwriting.
- An occupational therapist can assess your child’s need for any special equipment that would enable them to have an easier daily life.
Occupational Therapy vs. Physical Therapy
Physical therapy and occupational therapy are both beneficial for your child’s quality of life, however, they are very different to what they pertain. Physical therapy works on controlling pain, as well as strengthening muscles, increasing the range of motion in joints, building endurance, and improving gross motor functions. Occupational therapy focuses more on fine motor skills, improving visual perception, sensory-processing, and cognitive skills.
Schedule a Consultation
If your child is slower to develop or needs help strengthening their fine motor skills, you should contact an occupational therapist. They are experienced and dedicated to help your child gain independence and enjoy the occupational therapy process.