Occupational Therapy

What is Occupational Therapy ?

Occupational therapy is a therapeutic practice that encourages the rehabilitation or the development of skills necessary to perform activities in daily life. The goal of an occupational therapist is to enable an individual’s participation in activities or environments that are meaningful to them. For children, this includes participation in school, play, leisure and self-care. Occupational therapists draw upon theoretical models and research evidence to assess a child’s specific needs and they use this information to identify areas of delay or dysfunction. They will work closely with individuals and their families to develop goal areas that are specific and important to each child. These individualized treatment plans provide children with strategies to help them improve various areas of functioning and gain the skills necessary to participate fully in learning and social situations.

Occupational therapists also have a unique expertise in understanding and addressing the sensory needs of children that may be affecting their participation in any of the aforementioned areas. Sensory processing issues can affect one sense or multiple senses and in most cases can present a barrier for children to play and learn as effectively as their peers. Symptoms of sensory processing difficulties can vary depending on the individual and can change across the lifespan. Occupational therapists can equip children with strategies to help them organize sensory input and regulate behavior responses to sensory information.

WHY WOULD I ACCESS OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY? ?

Specific areas of development may vary depending on individual needs. You may wish to access occupational therapy services if your child has difficulty with any of the following skills:

  • Fine Motor Skills - handwriting, drawing/colouring, using scissors, grasping and manipulating toys, weakness in the muscles of the hand/arm due to muscle tone issues and/or injury
  • Gross Motor Skills - coordination, balance, body awareness, clumsiness (trips and falls), navigating playground equipment
  • Self-Care Tasks – feeding, dressing skills (including the manipulation of buttons, zippers and tying shoelaces), hygiene activities
  • Classroom Skills – attention, focus, organization of schoolwork and personal workspace, following routines, ability to participate with peers/groups
  • Sensory Processing – taking in, processing and responding to sensory input (i.e. visual, auditory, touch, movement, taste and smell), over or under-responsiveness to sensory information, emotional regulation, managing levels of alertness, participating appropriately in daily routines (i.e. mealtimes, bedtime)

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY?

Occupational Therapy is unique in its ability to consider the whole person; including their physical and mental well-being, their functional abilities, the activities they need to perform and the environment in which they participate. In a similar fashion, occupational therapy can determine appropriate environmental and/or task modifications to meet your child’s needs. It is an effective approach for children of all levels of disability regardless of diagnosis. By working with an occupational therapist, your child will be gaining the confidence and skills they need to explore, play and learn throughout their lifespan.

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