What is Occupational Therapy?
Occupational Therapy supports children in achieving their maximum potential by increasing their participation in a variety of daily activities. Occupational therapists work with children through a holistic perspective with the goal towards determining where delays or limitations are rooted, specifically in the areas of sensory processing, gross and fine motor skills, visual motor and perceptual development, self-care, social and play skills.
Occupational Therapy is movement and play-based. Encouraging children to participate in motivating activities, children are developing skills while having fun! Occupational therapists help children develop these necessary physical, cognitive, and sensory skills so they can perform daily tasks more independently.
Common Developmental Areas to refer a child/ student to Occupational Therapy:
Challenges with adjusting levels of alertness; hyperactivity/hypo-activity
Low sustained attention, easily distracted
Motor planning, organization and coordination barriers
Low muscle tone and stamina/endurance
Challenges in visual-motor skills – tracking an object, hand-eye coordination
Difficulties in Manipulating tools and equipment
Decreased independence in self-care skills
Delays in play and social interaction
Cognitive delays including problem-solving skills, memory, attention and organisation.
ADD, ADHD, Autism, Sensory Processing, Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Dyspraxia, Executive Functioning Disorder
Occupational therapy can assist with:
Teaching children to “organise” their body so that they can tolerate play without being overwhelmed or under-stimulated by their environment. This allows the child to be more engaged during play and learning. Therapy teaches children to cope better with distractions, textures, and multi-sensory environments.
Improving fine motor skills such as tool use, in-hand manipulation, grasp-carry-release patterns, accuracy of reach, bilateral and opposing manipulation, isolated finger co-ordination and sitting posture. Development of skills in pencil control, printing, cursive writing, drawing, colouring, cutting and/or keyboarding.
Teaching children skills to regulate their own behaviours throughout the day. Self-calming strategies are practised and taught to help control anxious behaviours such as fidgeting or rocking. Goals include increased attention span and focus.
Independent skills in dressing, eating, toileting, hygiene and bathing skills are developed so that children can participate fully in everyday situations.
Play & Socialisation
Therapeutic play is used to introduce concepts such as self-control, cooperative play, using body language, sharing, listening, paying attention, and following directions.
Cognitive & Visual Perceptual Skills
Improving memory, planning, problem-solving, time management, and organisation skills, targeted with self-monitoring strategies. Visual Perceptual skills; visual discrimination, visual memory, visual-spatial relationships, visual form constancy, visual figure-ground, are improved with puzzles, sequencing and matching to help with cognitive and fine motor skills.
Gross motor skills such as running, jumping, throwing and catching a ball and sequencing dynamic motor movements. Therapy targets improvement of motor coordination, motor planning, body awareness and strength.
Environment / Equipment
Modification of the environment and/or equipment recommendations to facilitate optimal participation in learning and development.