What is Occupational Therapy & how will a Brighton Occupational Therapist Work With My Child?
Brighton Center occupational therapists (OTs) provide occupational therapy services through the Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) program 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 OTs 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. OT’s 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.
Occupational therapy (OT) begins with an evaluation to determine areas of need and/or concerns through conversation with the family as well as by examination and evaluation of body structure/function (eg, muscle and joint function, sensory and neuromotor performance, posture), ability to perform specific activities, 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 a plan of care is established to include target outcomes as well as frequency of visits, OT may take place in a variety of settings including at home, at child care centers, and in the community within the context of every day routines and using toys and other supports typically found within those settings. Because children learn through play, interventions are embedded within play activities to optimize motivation, meaningful participation and joy. Assistive devices and/or toy and equipment adaptations/modifications may be considered to optimize the child’s movement and ability to participate in desired play or other desired activities.
Of utmost importance is the collaborative relationship between the OT and parent(s)/caregiver(s) to facilitate child- and family-centered care. Visits are typically scheduled for 45 minutes to 1 hour. During that time, activities are planned jointly based on parent-identified needs/priorities and target outcomes. Activities are practiced within usual routines, while the OT provides instruction and modeling of activities and facilitates parent(s)/caregiver(s) practice of the same activities with discussion and feedback with parent(s)/caregiver(s) throughout the visit. Equipping children through use of play and participation in daily routines that addresses areas of need and empowering parent(s)/caregiver(s) with knowledge and skills to carry over strategies within daily routines is essential.
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. 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 can also help children who have trouble with gross motor skills, which involve the major muscle groups. 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 might also display under-sensitivity and keep seeking out sensations by moving around and touching everything constantly