Occupational therapy can be a huge benefit to any child of school age. The list below is by no means exhaustive but if your child experiences difficulties in these areas help or advice from an occupational therapist may be beneficial.
Handwriting – This is an essential component of a child’s education and is a skill many children struggle with. Occupational therapy aims to improve various components of handwriting such as grasp, posture, speed, fluency and legibility. We are able to offer several handwriting programmes including ‘Handwriting without Tears.’
Fine Motor Skills – Effective fine motor skills including strength, dexterity and manipulation are required to perform most daily tasks. Children who struggle with these skills often find it difficult to use scissors or pencils accurately, or struggle to manipulate buttons and zips.
Gross Motor Skills –Your child may have poor balance, poor posture and may fatigue readily. They may have difficulty with riding a bike, following along in PE and poor hand eye co-ordination. When walking, they may have an awkward gait, clumsy movements and often bump into or trip over things. These types of difficulties are sometimes referred to as Developmental Co-ordination Disorder (DCD), which can affect children in different ways. Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy can help to improve these problems by building up the underlying components of movement such as hand strength, postural control, core stability, sensory integration and balance. Also, using a cognitive approach, therapists can train children to learn how to co-ordinate specific tasks giving them skills and confidence in their motor ability.
Attention and concentration- This is a core requirement of a child’s education, children are asked to sit still and follow multi-step commands throughout the school day. Sometimes children find this skill particularly challenging due to sensory processing difficulties. We have therapists who have specialist postgraduate training in the treatment and assessment of sensory processing difficulties. Following thorough assessment a therapist is able to provide intervention specific to each child to help them make sense of their sensory world.
Self Care - This refers to the self-help skills required to participate in daily routines such as dressing, toileting, mealtimes, tying shoelaces. School aged children may also require additional help in organising themselves to complete the morning or night routine effectively and independently. Children with an Autism Spectrum disorder often have difficulties transitioning from one task to the next, an occupational therapist is able to assist with this with the use of social stories and visual aids.
Visual Perception - Relates to the ability to understand what is seen. A child needs good visual perceptual skills in order to complete many activities in their daily routine such as putting puzzles together, identifying letters, copying from the board, reading a story or organising their work on paper.
Play: relates to a child’s ability to successfully interact with peers and engage in purposeful play, this is often an area of great difficulty for children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Brain and Spinal Cord
Your child may have been diagnosed with a specific condition affecting the central nervous system such as Cerebral Palsy, Spina Bifida, Hydrocephalus or Microcephaly. They may have had damage to the brain from an Acquired Brain Injury or illness, such as Meningitis. Brain and spinal cord tumours can also cause damage that affects movement and control. Occupational Therapy can help to influence muscle tone, normalise movement patterns and promote development of functional abilities, such as sitting, walking, eating and hand skills. Therapists may use play, positioning and movement facilitation to optimise results.
Children with Cerebral Palsy often have a visual perceptual deficit. Occupational Therapy is able to provide comprehensive assessment and treatment plans to help address specific difficulties in this area.