Occupational Therapy (OT) focuses on helping people with a physical, sensory, or cognitive disability to be as independent as possible in all areas of their lives.
OT can help kids with various needs in order to improve their cognitive, physical, sensory, and motor skills and enhance their self-esteem and sense of accomplishment.
Occupational Therapists use the word ‘occupation’ to describe activities that occupy your time. Everyday activities.
In adults, some occupations are meaningful (such as working, gardening and hobbies). Others are necessary and practical (such as cleaning the house).
A child’s occupation is playing and learning. OT’s therefore evaluate and access a child’s skills for playing, school performance, and daily activities and relate them to what is developmentally appropriate for that age.
Occupational Therapists might help kids:
- assist kids work with fine motor skills so they can grasp and release toys and develop good handwriting skills
- Work on the gross motor, larger body muscles and hand-eye coordination to improve kids' play and school skills (sunning, jumping, hitting a target, batting a ball)
- overcome challenges at school, such as spacing difficulties, handwriting, copying from a blackboard
- in understanding what is being seen. Visual perception is highly important in completing many activities, such as reading a story, completing a puzzle, identifying letters and numbers, copying and writing.
- severe developmental delays learn basic tasks for self care (such as bathing, toileting, getting dressed, brushing their teeth, and feeding themselves)
- with behavioural disorders maintain positive behaviours in all environments (e.g., instead of hitting others or acting out, using positive ways to deal with anger, such as writing about feelings or participating in a physical activity)
- by evaluating a child's need for resources such as slant boards, chair cushions, visual schedules, sensory tools, pencil grips etc
- who have sensory processing and attentional issues to improve focus and social skills
Approaches and Techniques
In order to achieve these goals OT’s use a variety of techniques that are individualized to the child. Some of the treatment approaches and techniques that we use are:
Ayres Sensory Integration®
Williams & Shellenberger’s Pyramid of Learning
The Wilbarger Deep Pressure and Proprioceptive Technique™
We also use supportive therapy based programmes such as the Alert Programme, and ‘How does my Engine Run’
So how does therapy work?
Every person experiences the world around them using their senses in their own unique way.
Some children have difficulty channelling and directing the signals they are getting through their body to their brain. This can cause them to feel uneasy or on edge and can result in the nervous system activating the flight (run away or remove themselves from the room/situation), fright (crying, anxiety, freeze) or fight (“lash out” or becoming aggressive) response.
Sensory integration refers to the way in which we receive and integrate input from the various senses: touch, taste, smell, hearing, vision and movement. The way in which we respond to these sensory stimuli, manifests in our unique sensory profile.
Each one of us has a sensory profile, and although there are no right or wrong profiles, sometimes, sensory sensitive people experience difficulties dealing with various sensory input.You may find in yourself that you are sensitive to clothing tags, to multiple noises or to food textures.
This impacts on functioning in the classroom, (attention and concentration difficulties, sitting posture, writing and following of instruction difficulties), home life (fussy eating, sleep difficulties, resistance to dressing or bathing), and social and emotional wellbeing (outbursts, stubbornness, avoidant behaviour.)
Our therapy sessions are structured around creating the ‘just right challenge’ in order to facilitate the child in making the appropriate ‘adaptive responses’ to the task and environmental demands.
Early intervention is important in assisting those children with delays to achieve their early motor milestones. Every child is on a developmental journey where they grow in abilities and acquire skills over time. It should be remembered that many children do not follow the typical developmental path and may diverge in their skills and abilities as they grow older.
Each stage of development can only proceed normally if the preceding stages have been met. Incomplete development in one area/skill will influence subsequent development and function in everyday skills.
At DOTS Occupational Therapy for Kids using a developmental approach within all areas of function allows us to help children master age appropriate tasks and support the development of their foundational skills in the areas of body awareness, gross motor skills, fine motor skills, self-care and play.
Our ‘higher order’ or executive functioning allow us to manage our resources in order to achieve a goal. It relates to thinking skills; it is involved with mental control, self-regulation, initiation, planning, and memory.
Helping children think about their actions, what they need for a task, what is the first step to a task, how to sequence the steps or for a school age child, even how to spell a previously learnt word. Improving these higher order thinking skills is a vital aspect of therapy and the DOTS Occupational Therapy for Kids OTS strive to help all children use their higher order executive skills in order to reach their potential in mastering and achieving goals, be they at home, school or even during play.
‘Play’ is essentially a child’s work. Play is vital to a child’s development and a foundation through which they learn many skills. Through play, a child learns about their own physical abilities, how objects work and how to get along with others. Pretend play, or imaginative play, is especially important. It is strongly linked to language and literacy development, problem solving, the development of and understanding of social situations and forming of friendships with peers.
Through play with peers, a child learns about getting along with others, how to take turns, to share and to negotiate. It prepares them for more advanced skills that are required for success at school, such as attending to others, engagement, and following instructions.
We encourage and challenge the children during therapy, and facilitate the families, in supporting the children to extend and develop their play skills for effective social functioning