About Occupational Therapy
What is Occupational Therapy?
Paediatric occupational therapists help children participate in everyday activities by working with the child, their family and others in the child's environment. Occupational therapists assist children to develop skills, achieve greater independence and support their participation in developmentally appropriate activities. Children learn better when they receive help with:
- regulation and attention
- fine motor skills
- gross motor skills
- coordination and positioning
- sensory processing (touch, taste, smell, sound, vision, balance and proprioception)
- self-esteem and anxiety management
- sleeping and toileting issues.
Who should see an Occupational Therapist?
Your child may need to see an occupational therapist for assistance if they have difficulties with developing skills across a range of areas. Often children who have difficulties need help with in one or more of the areas listed below. If your child is experiencing difficulties, early assistance and support makes a real difference and gives your child the best possible chance of overcoming these challenges.
Fine Motor Skills
Fine motor tasks are the tasks which require careful control of movements, usually involving the hands. Activities such as cutting, drawing, writing, threading, building and doing puzzles among other things all require fine motor skills. Problems with fine motor skills can lead to problems with handwriting and daily activities such as using cutlery, doing up buttons and tying shoelaces.
Gross Motor Skills
Gross motor tasks are the tasks that use whole body movements such as sitting, walking, crawling and climbing. Skills such as balance and maintaining a stable posture are important for focus and being able to do fine motor tasks.
Sensory processing is the way in which a child makes sense of messages from their senses of vision, hearing, smell, touch, taste and movement. Children need to be able to focus on what is important sensory information and ignore what is not. Some children are under-sensitive to messages from their senses and so may seek out more stimulation by constantly moving, touching or mouthing things. Others are over-sensitive to their senses and find it hard to ignore unimportant sensations of sound, movement, touch or visual information that others can block out. This may make it hard for them to focus, and they may become distracted and irritable, or they may try to avoid situations where they feel overstimulated.
Activities of Daily Living
Occupational therapists also assist children who are experiencing challenges with their activities of daily living. This may include assisting with eating, settling to sleep, toileting, dressing and grooming. They also support children with skills to assist with their learning, such as attention, concentration, posture control, pencil skills, memory skills and visual perception. Skills such as pretend and imaginative play, social play and imitation are also critical to children's development, and are areas in which an occupational therapist can work with children and their families.
Make an appointment
Making an appointment to get started is easy. Contact us by phoning (08) 8255 7137 or send us an email enquiry to arrange an appointment where we can help you to organise the assistance your child needs to be successful. There is more information in the occupational therapy articles category on the Talking Matters Blog and a useful YouTube video about Sensory Integration and some of the areas an occupational therapist can assist with.