Occupational Therapy (OT) is one of our therapies that we get the most questions about! The name alone confuses many parents because they automatically think of a job, or occupation, when they hear it. Yes, your child is too young for a real job, but as children it’s important for them to learn and play independently. Occupational therapy can help your child work on a wide variety of skills that they will carry with them in the future, maybe even to their real job as adults! Check out some of these skills you didn’t know OT could help with!
What Is Occupational Therapy?
Although the two are similar and can work together, occupational therapy (OT) and physical therapy (PT) are often confused. Physical therapy is used to treat an injury or impairment to help increase a child’s movement. The focus can primarily be on gross motor skills and is typically used after a surgery or injury to regain normal physical activities. Wound care can also be provided during physical therapy.
Occupational therapy is used to help children improve functional skills of daily living in response to a physical or developmental disability that they have. There is a focus on fine motor skill development and helping children get better at daily tasks such as eating, dressing, and learning.
What Skills Can Occupational Therapy Help Develop?
Pediatric occupational therapists work with children with a variety of disorders including autism, ADD/ADHD, Down syndrome, sensory integration problems, handwriting difficulties, feeding disorders and visual processing disorders. All of these conditions can affect a child’s ability to do daily tasks; which is exactly what we can help children improve with occupational therapy. The skills we work on in occupational therapy fall into different categories: fine motor skills, visual motor skills, self-care skills, sensory integration, and gross motor skills. What many parents don’t know though is the extent of the common daily tasks that use these skills!
Motor Skills: Opening and closing a lunch box, brushing teeth, buttoning
clothes, cutting food/using utensils, handwriting, and cutting and pasting.
Visual Motor Skills: Reading/writing, completing puzzles/math problems, dressing/coordination, and tracing letters or shapes.
Self-Care Skills: Getting dressed, using the bathroom, combing hair, and feeding ourselves.
Sensory Integration: Processing and interpreting sight, smell, taste, touch, and sound.
Gross Motor Skills: Running, crawling, swimming, and stability/posture.
Did you know that occupational therapy can help work on the skills we mentioned? Many people don’t! These skills are incredibly crucial in your child’s overall development, so it’s important that they are meeting all of their developmental milestones.
What is the Best Age to Start OT?
Occupational Therapy is good for children of all ages. OT services can start when a child is an infant and continue into teenage years or later. At PediaPlex, we will perform an evaluation first to determine a plan of care for the child. Once we have developed that plan of care, we can begin to offer services and work on the individual goals we have for the client. Once a child has met their goals, we will either recommend additional goals or they will graduate from the program. Our main goal is to help your child gain independence, perform tasks on their own, and develop essential life skills.
If you think your child might benefit from occupational therapy services, give us a call today at (817) 442-0222! We’d love to chat and tell you more about our therapy services and how we can help.
-The PediaPlex Family