What is Occupational Therapy?
- Use of treatments to develop, recover, or maintain the daily living and work skills of people with physical, mental or developmental condition
- Client-centred practice that places a premium on the progress towards the client’s goals
- Focuses on helping people with a physical, sensory, or cognitive disability be as independent as possible in all areas of their lives.
- Help children with various needs improve their cognitive, physical, sensory, and motor skills and enhance their self-esteem and sense of accomplishment.
- Occupational therapists evaluate children’s skills for playing, school performance, and daily activities and compare them with what is developmentally appropriate for that age group.
- Involve the large muscles of the body that enable such functions as walking, kicking, sitting upright, lifting, and throwing a ball
- The abilities usually acquired during infancy and early childhood as part of a child’s motor development
- By the time they reach two years of age, almost all children are able to stand up, walk and run, walk up the stairs
Fine Motor Skills
- Involve the small muscles of the body that enable such functions as writing, grasping small objects, and fastening clothing
- Coordination of small muscle movements which occur in body parts such as the fingers, usually in coordination with the eyes
- Teach children on how to learn eating, toileting, and personal hygiene, washing, grooming, dressing, and undressing
- Deals with how the brain processes multiple sensory modality inputs
- Such as proprioception, vision, auditory system, tactile, olfactory, vestibular system, interception, and taste into usable functional outputs
- Multisensory integration is necessary for almost every activity that we perform because the combination of multiple sensory inputs
Symptoms of Sensory Processing Disorder
Hypersensitivities to sensory input may include:
- Extreme response to or fear of sudden, high-pitched, loud, or metallic noises like flushing toilets, clanking silverware, or other noises that seem inoffensive to others
- May notice and/or be distracted by background noises that others don’t seem to hear
- Fearful of surprise touch, avoids hugs and cuddling even with familiar adults
- Seems fearful of crowds or avoids standing in close proximity to others
- Doesn’t enjoy a game of tag and/or is overly fearful of swings and playground equipment
- Extremely fearful of climbing or falling, even when there is no real danger i.e. doesn’t like his or her feet to be off the ground
- Has poor balance, may fall often
Hypo sensitivities to sensory input may include:
- A constant need to touch people or textures, even when it’s inappropriate to do so
- Doesn’t understand personal space even when same-age peers are old enough to understand it
- Clumsy and uncoordinated movements
- An extremely high tolerance for or indifference to pain
- Often harms other children and/or pets when playing, i.e. doesn’t understand his or her own strength
- May be very fidgety and unable to sit still, enjoys movement-based play like spinning, jumping, etc.
- Seems to be a “thrill seeker” and can be dangerous at times
Causes of Sensory Processing Disorder
- The exact cause of sensory processing problems has not been identified
- But a 2006 study of twins found that hypersensitivity to light and sound may have a strong genetic component
- Will be so severely affected by their sensory preferences that it interferes with their normal, everyday functioning
- Sensory issues are usually defined as either hypersensitivity (over-responsiveness) or hypo-sensitivity (under-responsiveness) to sensory stimuli
Occupational therapy treatment focuses on helping people achieve independence in all areas of their lives. OT can help kids with various needs improve their cognitive, physical, and motor skills and enhance their self-esteem and sense of accomplishment.
Some people may think that occupational therapy is only for adults; kids, after all, do not have occupations. But a child’s main job is playing and learning, and occupational therapists can evaluate kids’ skills for playing, school performance, and daily activities and compare them with what is developmentally appropriate for that age group.
According to the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), in addition to dealing with an someone’s physical well-being, OT practitioners address psychological, social, and environmental factors that can affect functioning in different ways. This approach makes OT a vital part of health care for some kids.