All About Pediatric Occupational Therapy

In the month of April, we celebrate occupational therapy (OT), which is an amazing opportunity to spread awareness of the value that occupational therapy holds. The truth is, this pediatric occupational therapy should be celebrated and recognized every single month. This blog will be highlighting how skilled and devoted occupational therapists help children reach their full potential to have success in every single environment, as well as in all areas of their lives.

What is a Pediatric Occupational Therapist?
A pediatric occupational therapist obtains a master’s degree so that he/she can adequately observe your child in a holistic manner and determine what skills your child may need support in, to be their best, most confident self. A pediatric occupational therapist will help your child build the skills they need to be successful in all environments. More specifically, a pediatric occupational therapist will evaluate:

  • Gross motor skills
  • Fine motor skills
  • Visual-spatial skills
  • Coordination and balance
  • Sensory processing skills
  • Self-regulation skills
  • Executive function/problem-solving skills
  • Attention skills
  • Ability to follow directions
  • Social development/ Self-Esteem

By working on these skills, the pediatric occupational therapist helps your child feel more confident, helping them reach each developmental milestone with enthusiasm and joy.

10 Signs Your Child may Benefit from OT

1) Developmental Delays

If you and/or your pediatrician notice your child is not meeting developmental milestones at the appropriate age (rolling, sitting, crawling, standing), it is important to further investigate whether your child would benefit from added support

2) Delays with Gross Motor Skills

Avoiding tasks or games that require gross motor skills
Balance issues

3) Delays with Fine Motor Skills

Avoiding tasks or games that require fine motor skills
Difficulties grasping toys/utensils/pencils
Difficulties using zippers/buttons/shoe laces

4) Writing Difficulties

Inappropriately holding pencil
Difficulties writing letters/words on the line

5) Educational Difficulties

Difficulties staying on task / following directions
Difficulties with problem-solving

6) Social Difficulties

Difficulties playing/interacting with others
Difficulties responding to new environments/routines

7) Inappropriate play skills

Difficulties with turn-taking/sharing
Difficulties initiating/engaging in conversations
Difficulties with eye contact
Difficulties with types of play (e.g., parallel, independent, imaginative, purposeful, etc.)

8) Sensory Issues

Seeking out movement to the point that it interferes with routines/learning
Difficulties with loud noises
Difficulties with textures (food textures, clothing textures)
Constantly needing to touch surroundings

9) Emotional Regulation

Difficulties calming down when upset
Difficulties recognizing other people’s body cues/emotions

10) Self-Care Difficulties

Difficulties getting potty-trained at the age-appropriate level
Difficulties dressing self & feeding self at the age-appropriate level

How will Your Child Benefit From Pediatric Occupational Therapy

Pediatric occupational therapists have gone through extensive training to determine the why of childrens’ behaviors, so that they can properly analyze each child and provide the individualized tools and strategies needed to succeed in all environments.
For example, when a child is crying at the movie theater for no obvious reason, your occupational therapist can help conclude if it’s perhaps due to a change of routine, or feeling sensory overload. In the same manner, if your child is displaying difficulties playing on the playground, your occupational therapist can help conclude if it’s due to avoidance of gross motor skills (e.g., avoiding going down the slide), difficulties with play, or sensory issues (e.g., avoiding texture of the sand). The occupational therapist will then work with the child and family to teach specific skills to help overcome specific challenges.

At Exceptional Speech Therapy, our highly dedicated and trained occupational therapists/occupational therapy assistants, are passionate in helping your child grow and leave each treatment session feeling more regulated, empowered, confident, and proud. The best part is that the therapy is through play, as research shows that learning through play is the best way. Depending on the age of your child, your child will most likely just believe they are playing with a really fun adult!

If you live in Florida, please reach out to Exceptional Speech Therapy, to help you determine if your child is eligible to receive services at the facility or via teletherapy. With the knowledge, passion, and skills of our occupational therapists, a plan can be implemented to not only improve skills, but also significantly improve the confidence and wellbeing of your child.

Essentially, our occupational therapists’ goal is to help your child be the best version and be exceptional (just like they already are!)

-Andrea Scola, M.S., CCC-SLP, Exceptional Speech Therapy Blog Writer