young boy attending an occupational therapy for children

What Is Occupational Therapy For Children?

Occupational therapy for children is a treatment that helps kids manage the everyday tasks, it focuses on kids who suffer from poor motor skills and need help with tasks at school and in the home that helps with their learning and development. Occupational therapy for children works on the skills that are kids requires to get things done – recognizing that even simple tasks like zipping up a pair of pants can be difficult. The therapy can help with developing motor skills to communicate, like teaching kids to write or type. Here’s a bit of what you should know about a good occupational therapy for children.

What is it?

Occupational therapy for children focuses on improving the fine and gross motor skills of kids with motor planning and development. The treatment can also help kids to learn self-regulation and help with sensory processing. The treatment is planned around a kid’s specific needs and will start by looking at their abilities and current strengths and weaknesses before looking at ways that it can teach kid’s how to do tasks that they have a hard time with. A few of the kinds of tasks that occupational therapy for children might focus on include:

  • Daily routines like getting dressed, brushing their teeth, or washing their face
  • Writing and note-taking skills
  • The holding and control of a pencil
  • Throwing and catching a ball
  • Organising items or a school bag
  • Reactions to a sensory stimulus

The treatment will usually involve a number of exercises and activities repeated over a period of time to help kids build up specific skills or learn new tasks. Kids with messy handwriting might for example be taught how to improve it with a number of handwriting exercises. Kids who struggle with their attention span might be given a number of full-body routines before they sit down to focus on other tasks. Generally, the earlier than occupational therapy for children begins, the more effective it can be. Learning to do basic tasks can help to build the confidence of children and will give them the self-esteem boost they need to try other things.

Kids who have weaknesses around their motor skills can be very uncoordinated and may be embarrassed in front of their peers, or at risk of being bullied for seeming different. OT can help give them back some of the confidence and makes them more likely to attempt tasks at school.

How it can help with specific tasks

A lot of kids will have a specific task that they struggle with or a specific challenge that they want to address. Kids with dyspraxia for instance will struggle with their fine motor skills, therapists will help them to develop them with exercises that focus on using fine motor skills. They may be taught to pick up small items with tweezers for instance or asked to use scissors and other utensils which require the use of fine motor skills. Kids who struggle with gross motor skills may be asked to do exercises like running obstacle courses. The treatment can also be helpful for kids who struggle with processing the environment around them. Sensory processing disorder can cause meltdowns and distress in kids. OT helps them to learn how to manage sensory input and their reaction to it.

The treatment has a wide variety of applications and can make a real difference in the daily lives of children. If you have a kid who struggles with fine or gross motor skills than it is well worth pursuing. Looking into therapists in your area could help to change your kid’s life.