Pediatric occupational therapy focuses on increasing your child’s level of participation in all the activities of their daily life. From teaching your child to sit still, play basketball or fasten buttons, occupational therapists can work with your child to make sure their needs are met in the areas of self-care, play, school/academic-related skills, attention and regulation.
Develop Fine Motor and Visual Motor Ability
Fine motor skills involve the controlled movements of fingers and hands to carry out tasks. For a child with difficulty in this area, one of our occupational therapists might work on the following tasks with your child:
- Holding a pencil properly
- Fastening zippers
- Putting on socks
- Stringing beads
- Transferring coins from palms to fingertips
Visual motor activities often go hand-in-hand with motor skills as they combine fine motor control with visual perception. Occupational therapy sessions targeting visual motor skills can include activities such as drawing and cutting out shapes, writing letters, completing puzzles, completing mazes and dot-to-dots.
Explore All the Senses
Occupational therapy sessions targeting sensory integration are designed to help your child take in, process and respond to sensory information from the environment more efficiently. Here are two examples of how sensory integration activities could benefit your child:
- If your child is hypersensitive to tactile input, a session may involve encouraging your child to tolerate playing with sand, dirt or finger paint.
- If your child seeks out constant movement, a session may involve providing deep pressure input through yoga poses, for example.
Improve Executive Functioning Skills
Executive functioning skills help guide your child’s brain to complete tasks. These includes: task initiation, planning, organization, problem solving, working memory and inhibition. In teaching these skills, your child’s occupational therapist will mimic real-life tasks to improve the ease at which these tasks are completed.
“For example, to work on planning and organization, your child’s session may involve planning for and carrying out a long-term project with step-by-step-completion,” “For a child who has trouble with task initiation, a homework routine or contract may be created with the use of auditory and/or visual timers or movement breaks.”
Build Strength and Coordination
Tying shoes. Sitting upright at circle time. Playing basketball at recess.
These might seem like simple activities, but upper body strength and coordination play a large role in your child’s ability to carry out these daily tasks. Here’s how our occupational therapists help address these issues:
- Upper body strength: This may be addressed with activities such as manipulating “theraputty” or by playing with a scooter board.
- Core strength: This is often addressed through tasks that challenge the core muscles. During these activities, children are encouraged to complete yoga poses or play “crab soccer” in a crab-walk position.
- Coordination activities: These activities target the planning and putting together of movements, particularly those that use both arms and legs at the same time (throwing and catching a ball, jumping jacks or climbing on a playground ladder).
NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help. Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates.