Pediatric Occupational Therapy

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What is OT?

Pediatric occupational therapy helps children gain independence while also strengthening the development of fine motor skills, sensory motor skills, and visual motor skills that children need to function and socialize.

Occupational therapy and speech therapy overlap in many areas, due to how directly connected the different parts of the human body are with one another. Typically, physical therapy treats the lower body, occupational therapy treats the upper body and speech therapy focuses on treating the jaw, lips, throat and tongue. The interrelatedness of occupational therapy and speech and language skills is a perfect example, as many areas of difficulty addressed by an occupational therapist (OT) relate directly to a child’s speech and language development (play skills, social skills, etc.). The OT and speech-language pathologist (SLP) will often work closely together to focus on maximizing functional progress during therapy, in order to help new skills carry over into a community or school setting.

Why choose OT?

A child’s role in life is to play and interact with other children. Our pediatric occupational therapists evaluate a child’s current skills related to play, school performance, and daily activities and compare them with what is developmentally appropriate for that age group. OTs help children perform daily activities they may find challenging by addressing sensory, social, behavioral, motor, and environmental issues.

Who may benefit from OT?

Children may require occupational therapy with or without the presence of a medical condition. Kids with the following medical conditions are considered to be ‘at risk’ for delays in skills impacting participation in home and school environments.

  • birth injuries or birth defects
  • sensory processing disorders
  • traumatic injuries (brain or spinal cord)
  • learning problems
  • autism/pervasive developmental disorders
  • behavioral problems
  • developmental delays
  • post-surgical hand conditions
  • spina bifida
  • cerebral palsy and other chronic illnesses

What can be accomplished through OT?

Occupational therapists work with children in the following areas:

  • improving fine motor skills so they can grasp and release toys and develop good handwriting skills
  • addressing hand-eye coordination to improve kids’ play and school skills (hitting a target, batting a ball, copying from a blackboard, etc.)
  • learning basic tasks (such as bathing, getting dressed, brushing their teeth, and feeding themselves)
  • maintaining positive behaviors 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.
  • evaluating the need for specialized equipment, such as wheelchairs, splints, bathing equipment, dressing devices, or communication aids
  • improving attention and social skills to allow development of interpersonal relationships.