Occupational therapy can benefit adults, but it can be greatly beneficial for children as well. Why should you consider becoming an occupational therapist? You can help children grow and thrive. Here are the reasons why occupational therapy is important for children, and how they can benefit from a dedicated and passionate occupational therapist.
Why Occupational Therapy?
During the first few years of a child’s life, their brains are rapidly growing. Here, the foundations for later growth are laid. As children grow, they must be nurtured. Important dimensions of growth include cognitive, social, and physical development. But this growth can be stunted for many reasons. Occupational therapy is important because it can help overcome obstacles to growth.
How Do Children Benefit from an Occupational Therapist?
In Daily Life: Typical daily tasks such as getting dressed, brushing teeth, using the bathroom, and writing can be extra difficult for children who need occupational therapy. Certain diseases and other disorders can interfere with the children’s ability to accomplish these tasks for themselves and may need additional support.
Dealing with Sensory Issues: Sometimes, a child may have difficulty processing sensory inputs. Because of issues with the fundamental senses (sight, touch, taste, smell, and hearing), children may be under-stimulated or over-stimulated. Occasionally, the child could experience both conditions at once. Different settings and surroundings could offer different levels of stimulation and thus cause different kinds of issues. Whether in school, at home, or out in the world, sensory issues could lead to sensory overload. A short attention span and easy distractibility are two significant signs of sensory issues. Occupational therapy can give them the skills they need to handle sensory issues.
Children with Cerebral Palsy: There are a number of disorders that affect children even at young ages. Cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy are two birth defects than can cause a child to need a wheelchair in order to improve their mobility. How can an occupational therapist help in these cases? The therapist can help the child learn to control their wheelchair safely and properly. Then, with assistance from the therapist, the child can rejoin normal school activities such as lunch, arriving in time for lessons, and retrieving items from lockers.
Children with Autism: Autism is highly similar to what is known as sensory processing disorder, or SPD. However, the two disorders are not one and the same. Children with autism are often referred to as being on the autism spectrum. Children with SPD might not have autism, but children with autism typically also have SPD. Signs that a child might have SPD include difficulty expressing themselves to others, lack of playing skills, and reduced interest in activities. Through observations and planning, occupational therapists can arrange a plan for addressing the child’s needs. Such activities include puzzles for improving coordination, communication, and environmental awareness.
Improving Motor Skills: Motor skills refer to how well muscles can move. Children that struggle with motor skills can greatly benefit from guidance rendered by occupational therapists. Walking, riding a bicycle, and playing sports can be made even more difficult due to issues with motor skills. Occupational therapy can help improve these skills.
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