Occupational Therapy

What is Children’s Occupational Therapy?

Children’s Occupational Therapy involves helping children to be able to reach their maximum potential through setting functional goals. In working with children these goals are achieved through the use of play, the primary occupation of childhood. There are two general aims of children occupational therapy. These are to improve the child’s functional performance and to enhance the child’s ability to interact within his or her physical and social environments.

Children’s Occupational Therapy

  • Promotes development and stimulates learning in children, assisting them to be more meaningfully involved in the world around them.
  • Aims to improve the quality of life of children by helping them to participate in everyday activities.
  • Assists children to develop and/or strengthen the skills that support learning, playing and relationship building at school and at home.
  • Enables children to develop confidence and independence to perform life skills

Children or Babies who might benefit from Occupational Therapy

  • Babies born prematurely
  • Children with neurological impairments e.g as a result of injury, disease, illness etc
  • Children requiring rehabilitation following an acute episode of illness or injury
  • Children who are experiencing difficulties keeping up with curriculum at school
  • Children with global developmental delay; i.e not reaching their milestones
  • Children with motor coordination problems
  • Children with specific clinical diagnoses

Role of OT with Babies

The primary occupations of a newborn infant and baby are sleeping, feeding, moving, social interaction and learning. Sometimes these “occupations” are disrupted by early experiences of the infant e.g prematurity, complication post birth, clinical diagnoses, etc. Therefore these babies and/or parents need the help of an OT to evaluate and provide therapy to reduce the impact of these difficulties on the baby’s social interaction, play skills, cognition, visual and motor development so that they can reach their maximum potential and level of function.

OT focuses on evaluating the baby’s ability to self regulate, self soothe, move, interact and communicate with their families through their behaviours and interactions with their environment.

Role of OT with Children

As the child grows and develops they may experience problems or barriers in achieving or reaching certain developmental milestones. There could be numerous reasons for this. The role of OT is to evaluate and establish why the child may be experiencing difficulties.  And then to provide treatment to refine, remediate, or compensate for these difficulties so that the child can be as independent as possible.

Older children’s difficulties tend to be related to coordination and school skills. OT can be involved in assessing the child’s motor skills, sensory processing skills, handwriting skills, visual motor integration skills, & visual perception skills.

OT Assessment

This will involve an initial interview and information gathering: meet with parent(s)/guardian(s) and the baby/child, gain access to relevant medical reports, background history, school reports/liaison.The OT assessment will involve the completion of non standardised and/or standardised assessments to identify the child’s strengths, areas of difficulty,  and developmental level.

OT Treatment

Setting goals with the parents and/or child. Examples of treatment includes positioning and handling skills, fine motor skill development, early play and social skill development, visual perception work, upper limb rehabilitation, pre writing and handwriting programmes.

Creche or school visits

These are available for a fee. This can be beneficial in terms of implementing therapy programmes with childcare/ school workers.