Occupational therapy (OT) supports children in becoming more independent and developing their cognitive, fine motor, physical, and sensory skills. When a child feels more confident and capable of doing things on their own, this can also have a positive impact on their behavior and self-esteem. Occupational therapists often focus on activities of daily living, which are basic skills children use every day to be more successful.
Some of the areas OTs might work on include hand dexterity, hand-eye coordination, pre-writing and handwriting skills, cutting skills, upper body strength and sensory processing. Your child may be practicing exercises that help them to better hold utensils as they eat, dress themselves, push the keys on a computer or phone, color or write their name, or better control their posture or arm movements.
As a parent, there are many ways that you can help your child carryover these skills from the therapy setting to home.
- Talk to their OT and find out what skills they are currently working on. Ask about similar exercises or activities that you can do at home.
- Let your child be more independent at home, if you know it is a task they can do on their own or with minimal supervision. Encourage them to keep trying and practicing; praise them for their efforts.
- Get them involved in things you are doing. Ask them to help write the grocery list, hand you items to put away (or you hand them and they put away), or measure and mix ingredients to make dinner.
- Play outside together. Toss a ball back and forth to practice hand-eye coordination, balance, and coordination. Draw with sidewalk chalk on the driveway. Climb on the playground.
- Follow the same steps and routines that are practiced in therapy to provide consistency and reinforcement.
Occupational therapy can be a lot of fun and your child may not even realize they are practicing what they have learned. The more opportunities they have to practice, the better they can become at those skills and build on them to develop new skills. To learn more ways to help your child at home, contact PediaPlex about OT services.
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