Kids Brain Tree (FoCo) | 3932 John F Kennedy Parkway, Suite 10 F, Fort Collins CO 80525 | +1-970-818-8768
Occupational Therapy at its best
- training the skills for living and learning
The traditional reasons that kids get sent to OT are either because they have sensory issues or that they have processing issues. The main one OTs are known for is that children can’t handle tags in their clothes. Or they are autistic, or they fidget.
Within a school system, kids are sent to the OT if they’re struggling with handwriting, or for not being able to manage their clothing when they go to the toilet.
What is not so commonly known is that OTs are uniquely positioned to use play together with a child’s perspective to change their glitches. So they don’t just do exercises, which makes it yucky for most kids. They don’t just do handwriting and pen and paper exercises to help with legibility - they can do it in fun ways. They can strengthen your grip for holding a pen by doing cutting activities or baking cakes, or many other activities that can get the kind of movement an OT needs from the child.
OTs often deal with bigger things that are not necessarily school related but are worrying a parent.
The biggest problems OT’s tend to work with outside schools are children who:
Have difficulty with changing tasks,
Have difficulty with handling their emotions,
Are struggling with schoolwork, reading, writing, math.
Seem not to be understanding what is going on.
The reason you would go to an OT for those struggles is that the problems could stem from a number of components. It could be that the child just doesn’t have the musculature. It could be that they haven’t developed the sensory-motor components. It could be that they haven’t developed the perception. An OT knows how to put the perception pieces together with the motor components to get children school ready.
Occupational Therapy (OT) is a way of helping people based on any activity which can be called an occupation. It is something that keeps your time busy, that’s where the word occupy comes from. For children, this means play too.
In some people a glitch can occur around a particular activity, the glitch can be that their eye muscles don’t work so they can’t read. It can be that their fingers don’t come together nicely or their thumb is on the side of their hand - so they can’t hold a pen easily. It can be that they haven’t figured out how to coordinate their feet and their hands.
Whatever the activity if it has a glitch, an OT can disassemble the activity, find the glitch, fix the glitch and reassemble it so that it goes together.
That’s why you want an OT because they can disassemble the glitchy activity and then reassemble it and put it back into your whole life. A good example is people who have arthritis in their hands. They often get put in a splint, but if you have to go to the bathroom how do you work a zipper when your hand is stuck in a splint? So the OT is the person who looks at the whole story. They will look at the whole person, the emotional impact, the social impact, the impact on everyday activities, everything that this glitch effects and they will find a solution that works for that person.
OTs can help bring extreme tantrums under control.
OTs can help a child focus and start to concentrate.
OTs can help with all fine motor work, so any developmental finger and hand movements. The most common skill that is underdeveloped is handwriting. But as OTs, we do crocheting and knitting and needlework as well. And so many more things that are also fine motor and much more fun.
OTs can help a child understand basic concepts like same/ different. This has a cascade effect of understanding all sorts of categorisations.
Categorisation affects our ability to group letters together, then our ability to sequence them for spelling. It affects our ability to pull concepts together so that we can write a whole story, so that you can put the introduction at the start, the middle piece in the middle and the end at the end. All of that is dependent on the concept of same/ different being stable. The ability to put together things that are the same and separate out things that are different starts very early but most kids are missing an early developmental piece in the same/different realm, so the cascade up is dysfunctional. So OTs put that back together again.
OTs help with being able to live independently.
OTs teach social skills. How do you relate to each other and how you can have good relationships. They teach how to have one on one relationships without scripting and without adult’s intervening to guide the interaction. It’s more of a process of saying, how do I say what’s inside of myself, like, you took my toy, I don’t like it when you take my toy. This brings in assertiveness versus aggression in interactions.
A lot of this sounds like it’s psychological and should be in the mind only but when you start working on something physical it fires up all your neurons. That helps sort out the connections in the brain that affect all the mind pieces too.