What is Occupational Therapy?
Occupational Therapy (OT) is all about supporting individuals to participate in their daily occupations. For children, this includes everyday life skills such as self-care, movement, play and social skills, and school-based tasks.
The goal of Occupational Therapy is to increase the independence and participation of children in a range of different environments.
How Occupational Therapy can help your child
Occupational Therapy can assist children who are having trouble engaging in daily life activities, such as feeding, dressing and toileting. It aims to help children engage more in kindergarten or school activities while strengthening their social, play and self-regulation skills.
The strategies that Occupational Therapists use address a number of skills:
- Fine motor skills, such as holding a pencil, tying shoelaces, using scissors, getting dressed and feeding oneself
- Gross motor skills, such as crawling, walking, climbing and balance
- Social skills, such as sharing, taking turns and classroom etiquette
What does it look like in practice?
Our Occupational Therapists can see clients in clinic, at home or in their educational setting. They first assess the child’s overall development, identify the areas that need to be addressed, and provide strategies to strengthen the necessary skills to increase the child’s participation.
In a session, an OT will follow the child’s lead, using play-based therapy and ensuring that the strategies used can be transferable across home, kinder, school or any natural environment.
Our Occupational Therapist’s collaborate strongly with the parent/caregiver, trusting that the parent/caregiver is the expert of their child. OT’s will model skills for parents to take home to practice and will provide the reasoning behind each activity to demonstrate how it will strengthen a skill.
How can parents assist in therapy at home?
Building a skill takes time and practice, so while the strategies to promote and strengthen a skill are implemented during therapy, the standard therapy session is only 45 minutes long!
That is why Occupational Therapists support parents and caregivers to think about natural opportunities the child might have throughout the day to practice a skill. For example, during meal times, bath time, or while out at the park.
This allows the child to strengthen the skill in their everyday activities and routines. Therapy sessions can then be spent reviewing progress and refining strategies to achieve the goals for the child.