Pediatric Occupational Therapy
Why do kids need OT?
Gross and fine motor physical development are important foundational skills for all children. Gross motor skills, such as hopping, skipping, running, balance, and coordination, form the basis for participation in play, sports, and exercise activities, leading to a healthy and active lifestyle. Fine motor skills are those that require use of the fingers and hands. Fine motor skills development is important for activities such as tying shoelace, fastening zips, coloring, using small tools and printing and typing.
A pediatric occupational therapist can work with you and your child on skills or strategies to develop independence with meaningful daily life activities. Goals are personalized to the individual child but often include self -care tasks such as dressing, tying shoelaces, using a knife/fork, opening lunch boxes or toileting.
These may present as: difficulty sit still, getting overexcited or having difficulty calming down, difficulty concentrating or paying attention, being over or under sensitive to touch/noise/movement, giving up easily or avoiding messy play. Sensory-behavioural issues can be present for a variety of reasons. Our assessment process looks at the underlying reasons for such challenges and our pediatric occupational therapists work with both the parent and child to develop strategies so that these challenges do not interfere with normal development.
Play is your child’s most important occupation. Play has an integral role in social, emotional and intellectual development. Some children find it difficult to use play equipment, take turns, play with others, or understanding social cues. A pediatric occupational therapist can work with you to help expand your child’s range of play interests and develop play skills in the areas that will benefit their physical, social and cognitive development.
Pediatric occupational therapy focuses on development of a child’s areas of strength and areas of difficulty to ensure well-rounded development. Some of the common school-based areas we are asked to help with are: handwriting, scissor cutting, drawing, concentrating, following instructions, shapes/puzzles/construction, being organized, and taking care of belongings.
It can be easy for children to feel overwhelmed or anxious. Often, they don’t have the language or skills to understand the emotions they are experiencing. Anxiety can have a significant effect on a child’s confidence and emotional wellbeing. This can lead to difficulties remaining calm in the classroom or can present as behavioural outbursts at home. There are many practical skills we can teach children (and their parents) to be able to take ownership of their emotional regulation, prevent “meltdowns” and understand the difficulties they may be having.
Some children benefit from occupational therapy specifically for the development of social skills. Pediatric occupational therapy can focus on developing skills such as; perspective taking, turn-taking, having a “back-and-forth” conversation and understanding expected social behaviours.
How do we support kids?
- Detailed assessment or screenings
- Individual/group therapy programs
- Consultation and advice for families
- Home, school and community visits
- Parent education and coaching
- Training and advice for service providers
- School/teacher training and coaching
- Home programs
- Referral to other services if required
- Home modifications and environmental guidance
Our pediatric occupational therapy follows a Change Framework model. Following this model, we believe that improvement occurs in accordance with two principles of change::
- The more you practice something the better you will be
- Receiving consistent instruction from multiple sources results in faster learning.
Because of these principles, we build pediatric therapy teams that consist of experts and of those closest to the child. The structure of our teams ensures that change occurs beyond the therapy room. Our teams consist of the child, the child’s Champion of Change (the therapist), and the child’s Agent(s) of Change (often caregivers and teachers).
Champions of Change make a therapy plan, educate and coach the Agents of Change on how to implement the plan, and help the Agents of Change overcome any barriers that arise.
Agents of Change are the people who are best able to make change happen: they implement the therapy plan, observe and report progress, and communicate difficulties or barriers.