What is Occupational Therapy?
Brighton Center occupational therapists (OTs) provide occupational therapy services with expertise and focus on gross and fine motor movement, feeding skills and sensory processing and how they all work together to allow your child to do essential every day activities. Brighton’s Occupational Therapy Services focus on a child’s “occupations” or daily activities by looking at the child’s current abilities holistically. A child’s “occupation” includes activities like play, eating, sleeping, dressing, toileting, exploring, learning and socializing. OTs break down each activity that a child might be struggling with and then work on building up individual skills that might be preventing them from being successful in those activities. OTs can help put the right strategies in place, so that children gain the confidence and independence they need to perform the activities that are so important to their overall development.
How will a Brighton Occupational Therapist Work With My Child?
Occupational therapy begins with an evaluation to determine areas of need and/or concerns. This determination is made through conversation with the family as well as by examination and evaluation of following:
- body structure/function (eg, muscle and joint function, sensory and neuromotor performance, posture),
- ability to perform specific activities (eg, balance and mobility),
- participation in various relevant and meaningful activities (eg, play with family and/or peers, participate in childhood games), and
- needs for assistive devices (eg, adaptive toys and/or equipment).
Once an Occupational Therapist establishes a plan of care, which includes target outcomes as well as frequency of visits, Occupational Therapy Services may take place. The therapy may occur in a variety of settings including at home, at child care centers, and in the community. Each of activities are performed within the context of every day routines, using toys and other supports typically found within those settings. Because children learn through play, therapists embed interventions within play activities to optimize motivation, meaningful participation and joy. Furthermore, therapists may consider using assistive devices and/or toy and equipment adaptations/modifications. This can help optimize the child’s movement and their ability to participate in play or other activities.
How will a Brighton Occupational Therapist Work With Me as a Parent/Caregiver?
Of utmost importance is the collaborative relationship between the Occupational Therapist and parent(s)/caregiver(s) to facilitate child- and family-centered care. Visits are typically 45 minutes to 1 hour in length. During that time, the Occupational Therapist will plan activities jointly based on parent-identified needs/priorities and target outcomes. Then, the Occupational Therapist will practice Occupational Therapy Activities with your child within usual routines. Moreover, the Occupational Therapist will provide instruction and model activities for the parent(s)/caregiver(s). Afterwards, the Occupational Therapist will facilitate parent(s)/caregiver(s) practice of the same activities. Discussion and feedback is shared with parent(s)/caregiver(s) throughout the visit. It is essential to equip children through use of play and participation in daily routines that addresses areas of need. Equally, it is essential to empower parent(s)/caregiver(s) with knowledge and skills to carry over strategies within those daily routines.
Hear from one of Brighton’s Occupational Therapist and learn how you can help your child develop their pincer skills!
How do I know if my child might benefit from Occupational Therapy?
For kids, playing is their occupation. If helps them explore the world around them, learn to interact with it and develop essential life skills that will allow them to connect with others and do things independently one day. If your child is having trouble mastering skills such as gross motor skills, sensory processing, visual-perceptual skills and other abilities that will allow them to investigate and navigate their environment on their own then they might benefit from Occupational Therapy Services.
What are the Signs I can look for that may indicate my child might be experiencing delays?
Here are just a few signs that your should look for if you are concerned your child might be experiencing some delays:
1. Difficulty achieving age-appropriate developmental milestones. Occupational therapy can help children who show signs of developmental delays. For example, if your 1-year-old isn’t crawling yet or if your 2-year-old can’t walk steadily. Click here to see common Developmental Milestones.
2. Issues with fine motor skills. Some children struggle with tasks that require strength, control, and dexterity of the small hand muscles. Kids who have trouble with fine motor skills will have a difficult time with tasks like using scissors, drawing, stringing beads, and using utensils. If fine motor skill issues aren’t addressed, a child with delays in this area could have a hard time performing essential activities like writing and using computers once they enter school.
3. Trouble with gross motor skills. Occupational therapy services can also help children who have trouble with gross motor skills. Gross motor skills involve the major muscle groups such as the arms, legs, and torso. Kids experiencing gross motor skill issues will have difficulties related to balance, strength, endurance and coordination – which can affect their ability to climb stairs, walk, hop, and play catch, among other activities.
4. Sensory processing problems. Children with sensory processing disorders can benefit from pediatric occupational therapy. If your child seems to overreact to touch, taste, sounds, or smells, that’s a common sign that he or she could have sensory processing issues and might need occupational therapy. Kids with sensory processing problems may also display under-sensitivity. This means they may keep seeking out sensations by moving around and touching everything constantly.