When your child receives occupational therapy at Prestige Therapy, the main goal of services is to promote independence and empower your child to complete activities of daily living through a play-based approach. Activities of daily living or ADLs include things your child does everyday such as dressing themselves, handwriting, playing on the playground, and interacting with peers and family members successfully. However, many children do not have the foundational, building block skills necessary to complete these daily tasks. Pediatric occupational therapists work with you and your child to help them develop these essential underlying skills including improved body and spatial awareness, motor planning, gross motor coordination, fine motor skills, bilateral integration, social interaction skills, self-regulation, reflex integration, and addressing sensory processing.
Fine motor coordination skills mean the small movements of our wrist and hands necessary to complete tasks such as buttoning our coats, squeezing toothpaste on the brush, or writing with a functional grasp on a pencil. In order for your child’s fine motor skills to develop properly, they require adequate intrinsic hand strength, dexterity, coordination and motor control. For example, if your child does not have sufficient hand strength or bilateral coordination, zippering their jacket before going out to play will be extremely difficult for them. Moreover, developing fine motor skills is of utmost importance for school performance as children have demands placed on them throughout the day to copy words and sentences from the blackboard, manipulate fasteners on their clothes or lunchbox, cut with scissors, color within the lines, and organize their desk and backpack efficiently. Our outpatient pediatric occupational therapy services work with you and your family to progress your child’s foundational fine motor skills to improve their home and school performance.
Whereas fine motor skills target the small muscles of the hands and require precision, gross motor skills refer to the large movements and muscles of the body. Gross motor coordination is important, especially for play skills which children use everyday, including kicking a ball, catching with two hands together, sitting up straight at their desk, and navigating the playground with appropriate balance and motor control. Gross motor and fine motor skills are connected. If you picture a pyramid, the bottom would be gross motor skills and the top would be fine motor skills. Therefore, gross motor skills are the foundation for fine motor skills. For example, if a child doesn’t have the postural control or trunk stability to hold themselves upright, they will not be able to engage to the best of their ability in a fine motor task due to not having the proximal strength required. Pediatric occupational therapy services work to build these foundational skills your child needs.
Sensory Processing and Self-Regulation
Does your child cover their ears or flee every time you go to use the blender? Do they constantly complain or cry about tags and seams in their clothing? Do they seek spinning movement constantly in order to help themselves regulate?
Sensory processing is the ability to take in information from your senses and organize it in a way that makes sense to your brain so that the individual can function in their daily lives. However, sometimes your brain has difficulty processing the information resulting in children and adults having sensory processing difficulties. Often, when a child has sensory concerns, they are not able to verbalize what their body needs or do not know why they are having a certain reaction to a stimuli. For example, a child who is defensive to tactile (touch) input may scream, cry, or even become aggressive when brushing their teeth or hair. This may be due to an over-responsivity to this tactile input. Occupational therapist are specifically trained to help you and your child manage and address sensory processing difficulties and educate you in order to promote carryover to the home and community environments.
Importance of Receiving an Occupational Therapy Evaluation
Development follows a hierarchy or a step by step process. Therefore, it is important for your child to receive an evaluation as soon as possible so that they do not fall behind and can achieve their developmental milestones. The earlier services are provided, the more your child will benefit from occupational therapy. Occupational therapy is for children across the lifespan from infants and toddlers to teenagers and young adults.
Every child is unique with diverse strengths and deficits. After your child receives an pediatric occupational therapy evaluation in our Rhode Island location, you will receive an individualized home program for you child with activities for them to complete in the home and community setting to further promote independence when outside their therapy services. After all at Prestige Therapy in RI, children’s occupational therapy is a team approach which includes the family unit.
Bilateral integration: the ability to use both sides of the body together in a coordinated way
Reflex integration: develop and mature the body’s reflexes for optimal functioning
Sensory processing disorder/difficulties: when the brain experiences difficulty in perceiving sensory information from the environment resulting in an abnormal response
Postural control and stability: the ability to maintain an upright position while sitting, standing, and during dynamic movements such as being displaced on a swing or therapy ball
Spatial awareness: the awareness of one’s body in space in relation to objects in the environment and also recognizing when there is a change in position
Self-regulation: refers to the ability of a child to focus their attention, control their emotions, and manage their thoughts, behaviors, and emotions
Dexterity: the ability to perform a precise fine motor skill such as shoe tying or buttoning quickly and skilfully with the hands and fingers