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June 8, 2022

What’s the Point of Pediatric Occupational Therapy?

Pediatric occupational therapy (OT) helps children with physical, mental, behavioral, and developmental conditions. It can help with everything from handwriting, self-care, and motor skills development to feeding, motor planning, and sensory processing. 

Key takeaways: 

  • Pediatric occupational therapy (OT) helps children with physical, mental, behavioral, and developmental conditions to become more independent and functional in their daily lives.
  • The goal of pediatric occupational therapy is to help kids do things independently and develop the life skills they need to function on their own.
  • Kids who need OT may show delays in fine or gross motor skills or have sensory processing disorders.
  • There can be many causes for a child needing OT, including chronic illness, traumatic injury, orthopedic injury, autism, developmental disorders, mental illness, or a myriad of other reasons.
  • Getting the help of an occupational therapist can help a child learn to play, improve their confidence and school performance, and teach them a variety of skills such as fine motor skills, social skills, and sensory regulation strategies.

Pediatric occupational therapy (OT) is a form of healthcare that helps children with physical, mental, behavioral, and developmental conditions to become more independent and functional in their daily lives. It can help them with daily living activities like toileting and getting dressed or educational needs like handwriting. The goal of pediatric OT is to help kids do things independently and develop the life skills they need to function on their own.

What can OT help with?

Pediatric occupational therapists are specially trained to identify barriers to independence for a child and work with the child and family to overcome them. They use special exercises and therapies. They can help kids:

  • Learn to play by improving hand-eye coordination
  • Improve their self-esteem as they increase accomplishments
  • Perform life skills like eating, bathing, toileting, and dressing themselves
  • Develop fine motor skills to pick up and release toys, work on handwriting, or computer skills
  • Teach children self-regulation strategies to keep a calm arousal level throughout the day

Having the assistance of an occupational therapist can help a child who was previously struggling to make major gains and help restore a sense of independence and accomplishment for them, as well as equip them with the confidence they need to carry out life skills independently.

Reasons a child may need OT

There are many reasons that a child might need OT. Here are just a few that we see commonly:

  • Developmental delays
  • Autism/developmental disorders
  • Traumatic injuries
  • Birth injuries or defects
  • Chronic illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, or other illnesses
  • Sensory processing disorder
  • Post-surgical conditions
  • Hand injuries
  • Learning difficulties
  • Mental health or behavioral problems
  • Broken bones or orthopedic injuries

OT can help address many different areas of life for a child, and help them improve their functionality in daily life.

Signs your child may need OT

OT may be necessary for a wide range of reasons, but there are some tell-tale signs your child can benefit from it. Here are some signs to watch for:

  • Sensory processing issues: Kids with sensory processing disorders are among those who can benefit from the assistance of an occupational therapist. If your child often complains of clothing being scratchy/itchy, loud noises, being touched, has food aversions and texture issues, balance issues, and complains of lights being too bright, they may have issues with sensory processing. Other children may be under-sensitive and try to compensate for this by being very active and seeking out stimulation and sensation constantly.
  • Developmental delays: If your child isn’t meeting age-appropriate developmental milestones, they may need OT. They may appear to be clumsy or slow to catch on, fall, or exhibit other behaviors that cause you to believe they are not on target. You should consult your pediatrician to see if they think a referral for OT is appropriate. A pediatrician can assess where your child is developmentally and help connect you with the right professionals, such as an occupational therapist, to assist if needed. 
  • Difficulty with fine motor skills: If your child is having difficulty with fine motor skills such as using scissors, stringing beads, or feeding themselves with utensils, OT can help. It’s important to address this early, as this can lead to issues for them later when they are learning to write or use a computer.
  • Difficulty with gross motor skills: Gross motor skills involve major muscle groups. Problems with gross motor skills will usually affect functional movements such as balance, strength, and coordination. This can make it difficult for children to walk, climb stairs, or do other activities.

If you notice your child is struggling in any of these areas, don’t worry too much. Getting support from an occupational therapist can help your child vastly improve.

Get support from a qualified occupational therapist in the Chicago, IL area

Realizing your child is struggling with self-care, motor skills, motor planning, handwriting, or any other basic skills can be challenging – for both you as a parent and your child. However, rest assured that these are skills, and with practice, your child can improve.

If your child is struggling with delays, you can help him or her improve at Lumiere Children’s Therapy. We offer full-service pediatric occupational therapy, among other pediatric therapy and supportive services, so your child can be as independent as possible.

We help kids develop the independence  to complete tasks on their own and work on:

  • Motor planning
  • Gross motor and fine motor delays
  • Body awareness
  • Coordination skills
  • Functional skills, such as stairs
  • Daily self-care skills
  • Handwriting
  • Visual motor integration
  • Visual perceptual skills
  • Feeding
  • Social and peer interaction skills
  • Sensory processing
  • Strength and coordination
  • Early development with infants
  • Sensory processing

We also help children with specialized diagnoses, such as:

  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
  • Sensory processing disorder
  • Developmental delay
  • Prematurity
  • Fine motor delay
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Brachial plexus injury
  • Down syndrome
  • Learning delays
  • Visual processing disorders
  • Motor incoordination
  • Chromosomal abnormalities

Lumiere Children’s Therapy is a full-service pediatric therapy practice located in Chicago. We focus on providing services catered to the developmental needs of children from birth to 18 years of age. Be sure to learn more about how our clinicians work diligently to improve the lives of the children and families they serve.

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