Interested in occupational therapy for your child but not sure what it exactly is? Occupational therapy is a profession that helps individuals from all ages and diagnoses engage in meaningful activities, including daily activities like dressing and feeding, or hobbies, like soccer or crafting. For children specifically, occupational therapists help promote skills necessary for their development and ability to engage in occupations that are meaningful to them, which predominantly are school, play and activities of daily living (we call them ADLs).
Generally, pediatric occupational therapists will work on these three major skill sets with your child: fine motor, gross motor, and sensory processing. These three skills are foundational in your child's development and allow your child to better participate in a variety of activities.
Fine motor skill is the coordination of all our hand and wrist muscles to make precise movements. These skills are extremely important in a child's development, as many daily activities include fine motor! Some examples where a child must use fine motor include getting dressed and tying shoelaces, writing and drawing at school, or using utensils while eating meals. Research shows how important fine motor is in development, as up to 60% of a child's day can be spent doing fine motor activities like writing or drawing. At Oak Bloom, we incorporate a multi-sensory, cognitive and motor approach along with evidence based curricula to improve your child's fine motor skills. Current research has shown that using these approaches has led to significant improvement in fine motor skills. Through fun activities, games and crafts, we help foster hand strength, coordination, in-hand manipulation, and so many other skills to help your child become their best self.
While fine motor is associated with small and precise movements, gross motor skills are those which require engaging in large muscle groups to produce full body movement. There are many skills involved in gross motor, including bilateral coordination, motor planning, and postural control. While climbing a jungle gym, a child must motor plan the appropriate steps. While sitting in class, a child must have good core strength to stay sitting upright. While playing a sport, a child must incorporate bilateral coordination to throw the ball with precision and accuracy. Research shows that children who struggle with gross motor skills are generally less active and may experience social and emotional challenges. At Oak Bloom, we incorporate play in helping your child meet their gross motor goals. Current research reveals the effectiveness of occupational therapy in improving gross motor skills, specifically with locomotion, stability, and manipulation.
Our body is constantly receiving sensory input and integrating it to produce a response. However, for some children, they may have trouble with registering (noticing the sensory stimuli) or modulating (control how much the sensation is perceived) or integrating (combining different sensory input together). Some children may be sensory seeking, where they may be actively seeking for sensory experiences, like playing rough, fidgeting, or constantly moving. Some children may be sensory avoiding, where they may be actively avoiding sensory experiences, like refusing to wear certain textures, having a limited diet, or becoming overwhelmed with loud noises and environments. At Oak Bloom, we tailor interventions to your child's needs and help foster their sensory integration. Research has shown the effectiveness of sensory integration, revealing improvements in motor, sensory processing, behavior, and occupational performance.
If you recognize your child having trouble with some of these areas, occupational therapy can definitely help! We want to help your child become their best self and be able to engage in activities that are meaningful to your child and you!
For more information regarding research on occupational therapy, click here.