People may wonder why during a pediatric OT session the client and therapist are doing a puzzle, playing a game, taking a walk, swinging on a swing, or doing an obstacle course? These are very purposeful activities with meaningful skill development being worked on and sought after throughout the process of the task. Movement opportunities also bring language to the forefront and enhances learning opportunities.
What do pediatric occupational therapists provide in treatment?
- OTs provide services to infants, toddlers, children, youth, adolescents, and young adults, as well as to their families
- OTs work with children from birth-21 years old with play skills, feeding/oral motor skills, achieving developmental milestones, bonding with caregiver, sensory integration therapy, motor planning and praxis work, and language development.
- Pediatric OTs work within the school, mental health setting, hospital, outpatient, sensory clinic, early intervention, home, and community settings.
- OTs can help their clients who are 18-21 (young adults) years old transition into community jobs or different academic settings and learn life skills to live independently within their own apartment, obtain a driver’s license, or learn to access public transportation.
- OTs also work with people to safely sequence and prepare meals for themselves, help them to organize their daily tasks such as ADLs and job requirements.
- OTs help them to explore and learn leisurely activities, finding ways to help them improve their social independence.
- OTs help patients to ensure that they have thorough hygiene skills.
- OTs provide options for children to express their negative feelings or behaviors in a positive way, using role playing and other therapeutic techniques.
- OTs evaluate and provide the need for specialized equipment such as splints, bathing equipment, dressing devices, or communication aids.
What is play?
- Play is a child’s main occupation and it is important for their quality of life. Through play, children build physical, cognitive, motor, and social-emotional skills, as well as different learning opportunities. Pediatric OTs develop play opportunities by adapting a child’s environment to obtain the optimal learning experiences and to increase their functional skills for school and ADLs.
What specific skills do pediatric occupational therapists work on?
- Cognitive skills: shape, letter, and number recognition, sequencing, literacy, body awareness, visual-perceptual skills, and visual-motor skills
- Fine motor skills: finger dexterity, manual dexterity, wrist and forearm control, hand/finger strength, separation of the sides of the hands, scissor skills, pinch strength, and in-hand manipulation skills
- Handwriting skills: pencil grasp, letter formation, sizing, and spacing
- Gross motor skills: balance, body coordination, postural strength, endurance, and core strength
- Self-care tasks: dressing, bathing, and self-feeding
- Social skills: turn taking, listening to others, following directions, identifying and expressing their emotions, and developing appropriate play skills with others
What is the OT pediatric evaluation process?
- Receive a referral from a parent, teacher, doctor, daycare, school, or DCF
- Gather relevant background information and reason for referral
- Interview of parent, teacher, siblings, or grandparents
- Create an evaluation plan
- Complete the evaluation
- Formal and informal interview
- Observations (at home or at school)
- Standardized assessments
- Interpret results and report
- Create a treatment plan
What common conditions do pediatric occupational therapists work with?
- Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Down syndrome
- Delayed developmental skills
- Learning disabilities
- Intellectual disabilities
- Cerebral Palsy
- Birth injuries or birth defects
- Sensory processing disorder
- Mental health or behavioral problems
- Traumatic injures (brain or spinal cord)
- Severe hand injuries
- Spina bifida