What is Occupational Therapy for children?

Occupational Therapy improves the functional attention/concentration, behaviour, movement, play and learning skills that children require across all environments and across the age span to do the things that kids do:

  • Concentrate (on one thing at a time) and behave appropriately
  • Learn (not just academically but in everything that they do socially, in movement, in play, in self care)
  • Move with control (whether it be their fingers for drawing or their body for jumping)
  • Develop independence in self-care (dressing, toileting etc) and self-management (money, time etc) skills
  • Organize themselves (such as for playing a game, or packing their bags for school)
  • Play (both alone and with others).

SLDTC Occupational Therapy focuses on making everyday life easier for children with developmental challenges, their parents, their teachers, and their extended network of families and carers.

SLDTC Occupational Therapy helps children overcome developmental challenges in movement, play, learning, attention and behaviour.

At SLDTC we don’t treat a diagnosis, we overcome the hurdles to daily life. Occupational Therapy helps children develop their abilities in*:

  • Finger skills (Table Top or Fine Motor skills): pencil and scissor skills (colouring, drawing, writing), opening lunch bags, manipulating toothbrushes, tying shoelaces.
  • Whole body skills (Gross Motor skills): running, jumping, swimming, bike riding ball skills, posture at the table.
  • Visual Processing: accurately interpreting visual information that helps skills such as literacy (reading, writing)
  • Sensory Processing (for concentration and learning): sensory reactions within the body or in response to external stimulus which impacts concentration, behaviour and learning.
  • Executive Functioning: numerous mental skills that allow to master learning including skills such as working memory, flexible thinking, multi-taking and self-control of concentration and attention.
  • Self-Care: daily life skills such as dressing, toileting, hygiene, eating, sleeping etc.
  • Self-Management: general organization, keeping track of personal items, understanding time, and using money.

* Different skills are required at different ages and stages of education.

Occupational Therapy improves the functional skills that are required across environments. While the actual ‘therapy’ occurs within the clinic setting (and home setting through home practice), our Occupational Therapy team works closely with parents, teachers and other care-givers. Our team help implement strategies to develop physical, attention/concentration, self-care and play skills in the home, child care, kindergarten and school environments.

Therapy is focused on developing and implementing skill development and strategies to aid this across all the environments that the child encounters. Without this focus, children can just become very good at demonstrating a skill in the one location, with the one person and in the one way they have practiced it. Occupational Therapy, like Speech Therapy, is focused on children being able to develop and then use these skills across all the environments they encounter to be the most flexible and proficient learners they can be.

Why Speech Therapy can help meet Occupational Therapy goals?

Due to the dynamic nature of children, their specific skill development progression and the ever changing environments (and the demands those environments place upon them) it is not uncommon to find that many children benefit from both Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy. In fact often one directly helps the other. This can occur simultaneously or at different times (e.g. a term of Occupational Therapy, followed by a term of Speech Therapy). Your child’s therapist will be specific about this if and when it is appropriate to consider involving another discipline.

Speech Therapy can directly help Occupational Therapy by developing:

  • A communication method for a very upset and frustrated child that allows them to express themselves and be understood and in doing so to calm for improved self regulation of attention and emotion.
  • The language skills to listen to others that allows the child to talk through a step-by-step sequential process that then allows them to learn how to plan and sequence a task, and how to begin to overcome a challenge (that isn’t just having a tantrum!)
  • Communication in its broadest sense (e.g. pointing) to begin the child understanding the value of developing language whilst still developing a functional short term communication method to help regulation.
  • An understanding of the rules of language as it relates to grammar and spelling that have direct impacts upon handwriting skills and interest.
  • Memory for academic but also self-management tasks (such as “where did I leave my lunch box?”)

Choosing SLDTC as your Occupational Therapy provider allows you to receive both OT and Speech Therapy on site, ensuring that clients experience a truly integrated multi-disciplinary service rather than one that is given lip service but that phone tag between professionals makes it difficult to deliver.

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