Why Would a Child Need Occupational Therapy?  

Every day in this country, thousands of children from all walks of life work with occupational therapists in order to feel more successful as they play, learn, and socialize—the three main “occupations” of a child or teen!

If you’re a parent or caregiver, perhaps you’ve wondered whether your child could benefit from OT services, too. Keep reading to learn more.

What is Pediatric Occupational Therapy and Who Is It For?

Pediatric occupational therapy is a field of healthcare that helps toddlers, adolescents, and teens improve a variety of skills that are necessary for a fulfilling, productive, and healthy lifestyle—including physical, emotional, cognitive, social, and perceptual skills.

A child might struggle with one or more of these skills because of health conditions present at birth or illnesses or injuries that develop later in childhood. Some of the most common health conditions that our pediatric clients live with include:

  • Down syndrome
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Language and learning differences, such as dyslexia, sensory processing disorder, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
  • Traumatic brain injury and anoxic brain injury
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Pediatric cancer
  • Low vision
  • Developmental delay
  • Burns
  • Cleft palate
  • Orthopedic conditions including limb loss (amputation) and scoliosis
  • Spina bifida
  • Conditions affecting personality and behavior, including obsessive-compulsive disorder

Of course, no person is defined by their diagnosis or health condition. At TPI, we understand the importance of recognizing and honoring each child’s unique personality, goals, strengths, and opportunities for improvement as we build a customized plan of care to help them gain independence and confidence!

We also rely heavily on the input and insights of parents, guardians, caregivers, and other individuals who play a role in a child’s health and development—including pediatricians, teachers, dietitians, social workers, physical therapists and speech-language pathologists. Helping your child feel like a success is truly a team effort.

So, should you ask your child’s doctor about a referral to occupational therapy?

5 Signs That Your Child Could Benefit From Occupational Therapy

You can’t tell by simply looking at a child whether they could benefit from occupational therapy. Our experienced, board-certified pediatric occupational therapists at Therapeutic Potentials, Inc. work with kids of all ages, backgrounds, and ability levels who experience challenges in different areas of their daily lives.

To help you make an informed choice for your child, here are five common signs that your child could benefit from working with an occupational therapist:

  1. They exhibit one or more developmental delays. For example, your child might not reach developmental milestones such as sitting, crawling, walking, babbling, making sounds, and/or talking at the expected times.
  2. They avoid or have difficulty with activities that involve fine motor and/’or gross motor skills. Things like using a pencil, managing shoelaces or buttons, holding utensils, playing with balls, skipping, jumping, or even going up and down stairs might be difficult or frustrating for them.
  3. They demonstrate problems with visual processing. Even if their eyesight is normal, your child may struggle to see the board in class, discriminate between different objects, know the difference between left and right, and write letters and words because of differences in the way their brain interprets visual information.
  4. They demonstrate oral motor dysfunction or have problems with the way they use and manipulate their lips, jaw, tongue, and soft palate. This might show up as excessive drooling, difficulty chewing and swallowing food, and being a “picky eater.”
  5. They have differences in their learning, social skills, and sensory processing skills. Children with learning, social, and sensory differences may struggle with things like impulse control, paying attention in class, playing with others in an age-appropriate way, and adapting to changes in a routine or environment.

How Can a Pediatric Occupational Therapist Help My Child?

Pediatric occupational therapists are highly trained allied health professionals who use a wealth of research-backed technologies, techniques, and therapeutic services and apply them in a customized way to address the specific goals and challenges of each child and their caregivers.

To give you an idea of what our Southwestern Florida pediatric OTs do every day, here are some things we frequently work on with our diverse group of clients:

  • Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), including getting dressed, bathing, eating, and using utensils
  • Attention and Organizational Skills
  • Body Positioning, Range of Motion, Balance, Strength, Activity Tolerance, and Fine and Gross Motor Coordination
  • Sensory Processing, Vestibular, and Vision Skills
  • Academic-Focused Skills, including Handwriting, Learning Differences, Following Directions, Problem Solving, and Social Skills
  • Adaptive Equipment and Assistive Technology Assessment and Fitting
  • Safety Issues for School, Home, and Community Environments
  • Behavior Modulation and Self-Regulation Skills

Is Your Child Ready for Occupational Therapy?

If you’ve been wondering whether your child could benefit from occupational therapy, or if your child’s healthcare provider referred you to an occupational therapist (OT), call Therapeutic Potentials, Inc. today at 941-758-3140 to schedule an appointment or fill out our convenient contact form online.

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