Occupational therapists often receive numerous questions from other professionals and parents about how we can help their children. Occupational Therapy has such a wide range of treatment options, many people are not aware of the vast services I can provide and may not understand how they differ from services other healthcare professionals offer. It is so gratifying that there are a variety of services I can offer to help children and young adults develop skills and overcome obstacles. I’ve always enjoyed outpatient occupational therapy somewhat more than other practice settings because I feel there are more options in which I can help children and their families. It is so rewarding to work in areas of sensory integration, feeding dysfunction and/or neural motor limitations in order to help a child overcome their anxieties or traumatic experiences that we would consider common place or enjoyable.
In my opinion, outpatient therapy activities are extremely fun-filled and engaging for children. This is the main focus of my therapy, to make the experience as fun as possible for the kid while I challenge what they can do or tolerate. I use various Ayres sensory equipment to assist a child with tolerating different debilitating conditions such as gravitational insecurity or tactile defensiveness. I can also use this theory and other similar occupational therapy evidence to utilize proprioceptive, vestibular, or deep pressure as a means of modifying how they experience various treatment activities. I also use graded obstacle courses to help calm a child’s sensory seeking or hyperactive behavior. I can also use occupations and equipment to assist a child with improving their motor, social, emotional and/or cognitive skills so they can have a greater childhood experience with play, academic/sports and other tasks. These are only a few of many services I provide to help the child enjoy themselves as their sensory-neural systems are re-programming or they are developing the base performance skills required to successfully perform and participate in their daily lives.
Below is a list of general services an occupational therapist would work with a child in an outpatient setting.
Self Care and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living:
- Bathing and hygiene tasks
- Toileting and toilet hygiene
- Dressing and manipulating clothing fasteners
- Eating and being able to feed themselves, ex: use of eating utensils
- Functional mobility as it pertains to occupations/tasks in their daily lives
- Instrumental or higher level tasks include but are not limited to:
- Management of chores and homework, light meal preparation and safety/young adulthood skills.
Sensory and Behavioral-Based Feeding:
- Use of a variety of evidence-based sensory feeding and behavioral approaches to increase the variety of textures and foods a child can tolerate eating.
Fine Motor and Gross Motor Development for Occupations and Play:
- Being able demonstrate improved fine motor abilities for finger isolation, bilateral integration, crossing midline, developing a dominant hand for various tool use, etc.
- Gross motor examples include but not limited to:
- Reaching developmental milestones through gross motor play. Being able to kick and throw a ball, ride a bicycle, use and explore playground equipment.
Sensory Integration and Sensory Processing:
- Provide Ayres certified Sensory Integration to increase tolerance of sensory information from various tasks and the child’s environment.
- Provide other evidence-base models of sensory treatment to further increase tolerance/processing/modulation and increase participation in various play and necessary self-help/developmental tasks.
Occupation-Based Social and Cognitive Skills Development:
- Use of the child’s variety of roles and tasks/occupations they participate in or would like to achieve to increase social interactions, friendships and sibling bonding.
- Through performance of necessary and favorable occupations, occupational therapy can work on a child’s attention, executive functioning, organization, emotional regulation and other cognitive processes.
- Individual direct occupational therapy as well as consultation.
- Development of a family and client-tailored home program to carry over success of skills and goals at home.
- Screenings and assessments.