What is Occupational Therapy?
Occupational Therapy for babies, children and young adults focuses on helping children to develop age appropriate skills to help them achieve their daily “occupations” that may broadly include self-care, school and play. To elaborate:
From an Occupational Therapy perspective, addressing self-care could be:
- Developing strategies around toileting, bathing and dressing by either directly working on the skill or by providing adaptations or specialised equipment for home and/or school use as appropriate
- Developing skills and or strategies in doing buttons and zips, and tying shoelaces
- Develop strategies around other general activities of daily living (ADLs) which could broadly include eating, personal hygiene, sleep and rest.
Play / Social Skills:
- Play is a voluntary engagement in an activity that is usually associated with pleasure and enjoyment. Play can be pretend/imaginary, constructive, and collaborative (with others) or independent. Play is vitally important as it is the way children learn about their bodies and environment.
- Play skills are also heavily connected to the child’s social skills, as social skills are vital in enabling an individual to have and maintain positive interactions and thus play with others
Occupational Therapist can assist broadly from a kindergarten/school capacity by:
- Developing hand-writing skills
- Developing fine motor skills such as use of scissors, rulers and other tools
- Improving visual motor skills and hand-eye coordination which are both required for the development of pre-reading and pre-writing skills
- Developing balance, movement and coordination
- Support sensory processing and regulation for attention and concentration
- Improving planning and organisation skills to organise their school bags and belongings or in the older years to move between classes for example.
By focusing on these above key areas, OTs help children in developing confidence, self-esteem, social skills and general well-being.