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What is occupational therapy and why your child may benefit from it?

As science, technology and the medical industry grow, we learn that not all kids are born completely healthy and that mental illness should be taken as seriously as physical illnesses. Some children have problems communicating their wants and needs, problems completing simple tats and making new friends and bonding. One of the ways to help these issues and many more is occupational therapy. Occupational therapy helps people with physical, sensory and cognitive disorders to live as independently as possible by taking their psychological, social and environmental factors into account. It can help children with;

  • Develop better motor skills like handwriting
  • Increase hand to eye coordination
  • Help kids behavioral problems like acting out
  • Increase developmental skills like feeding and dressing themselves
  • Teach children with disabilities certain skills necessary
  • What kind of equipment the child needs depending on their needs
  • Improve focus and social skills of kids with sensory and attention issues

occupational-therapyAmerican Occupational Therapy Associations say that occupational therapy may be helpful to children with the following conditions:

  • Birth defects or injuries
  • Mental health problems
  • Autism/ pervasive developmental disorders
  • Post surgery recovery
  • Traumatic experiences and injuries
  • Sensory processing disorders
  • Learning problems
  • Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
  • Burns
  • Cancer
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Spina bifida
  • Cerebral palsy
  • And other chronic illnesses

What is the difference between Physical therapy and Occupational therapy?

While physical therapy helps with pain, strength, mobility, stability, and motor functioning skills, occupational therapy helps to improve cognitive skills, motor skills, visual skills and sensory processing skills. Both are helpful in their own way and create a strong, powerful support system together when needed.

Occupational therapy helps with organizational skills and focus to give your child the upper hand at school and activities. Kids keeping active is important for their physical health but also mental health. But sometimes children don’t know how to engage in a conversation with their friends or get uncomfortable around strangers due to a lack of communicational skills. Occupational therapy can teach children how to get through the day. With the help of exercises, strategies, and accommodations, Occupational therapy can help your child catch up with the other kids if you feel like they lack certain developmental milestones. An OT will evaluate your child’s needs and create custom activities to work on with your little one. These activities may include; full body exercises, multisensory techniques, or if your child has learning issues, the OT can help them understand things a little better.

We all want the best for our kids. Providing the best support and help we can get is our responsibility as parents. Occupational therapy helps those who struggle with motor skills, both fine and gross, by practicing how to pick things up with tweezers or cut things with scissors for fine motor skill improvement and balance coordination by catching balls of different sizes or jumping jacks for gross motor skills.  Occupational therapy in children can lead to fantastic things with big benefits that will make you and your children be thankful about the fact that you got them the help they needed. Young kids with learning issues can improve and become functioning parts of society and even improve their attitude towards you and those around you. After all, when we don’t understand something or unable to do something correctly, even adults tend to get frustrated. It is no wonder a child with developmental issues may have behavioral problems.

Finding the right occupational therapist right for you is the first step towards getting your child on the right path. Most OT practices offer outpatients services and have insurance coverage so if you feel like the younger member or members of your family needs some help with their motor skills like brushing their teeth, writing on a classroom board, grasping a pencil or other developmental problems, asking an occupational therapist may let them enjoy the rest of their lives as much as possible without feeling like they are missing out on something.