Contrary to popular belief, occupational therapy isn’t just for troubled adults. Children can likewise benefit from treatment and not necessarily as a form of medical intervention (due to disabilities or traumatic experiences).
Another way to think about occupational therapy is that it can be the key to a bright future for children. That is because an occupational therapist can fill essential roles in children’s lives — a friend, mentor, advocate, and playmate.
In this article, we go over how an occupational therapist’s services can prove beneficial to children. Only then can you decide whether or not Occupational Therapy for Children is a worthwhile investment.
Developmental activities for occupational therapy
A child therapist can use a wide range of toys designed to arouse children’s attention and cognitive development. Such toys are matched to the specific age and ability of each child.
For example, sessions can alternate between playing catch with a ball (for improving motor skills) and puzzles designed to stimulate visual hand-eye coordination.
Games hold a special place in child therapy for many reasons. For one thing, a therapist can use toys to enhance a child’s cognitive and motor skills without even realizing it. The therapist offers a game to play in every session that a child can play with no hesitation. This makes it easier for the therapist to earn a child’s trust and monitor progress.
Building social skills
Children could use some professional guidance in navigating their social lives. Hence, an essential part of child therapists’ responsibilities is to design exercises that kids can use to work on their social skills. Such activities are based on daily social interactions that a child can have with family, friends, classmates, etc.
What activities are there that would help a child build social skills, you ask? Well, for one thing, the therapist can engage the child with a simple conversation that offers encouragement for self-expression. The therapist can also help parents reinforce a child’s good behavior at home and school.
Social exercises for children works best if they blend naturally with a child’s day to day activities. That way, the child wouldn’t realize that anything was amiss and respond as naturally as possible with every session.
Teach everyday life skills
An occupational therapist can teach kids with disabilities to achieve a measure of independence and care for themselves (at home or in a simulated environment). This includes feeding oneself and dental hygiene, using deodorant — daily tasks that are essential to self-care.
For best results, the occupational therapist must first discuss the matter with the child’s family. This is to determine what the child can and cannot do on their own. Only then can a therapist map out the most efficient route to foster independence and self-care.
One significant challenge that occupational therapists face when working with children is that circumstances tend to vary. Hence, strategies for fostering self-care and independence will differ from one child to another.
As you may have already realized, occupational therapy is a diverse practice that most parents tend to overlook. Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that treatment has the potential to enrich children’s lives and make the most out of their younger years.