What Encompasses Pediatric Occupational Therapy (OT)?

A child’s life consists of “occupations” or daily activities.  These activities include playing, learning, socializing, and tasks of daily living such as eating and dressing.  Occupational therapists help children to become more independent and improve their skills with cognition, and develop a child’s physical and emotional health.  For children, some of these activities can be as simple as being able to use utensils, catching a ball, complete self-care tasks (e.g. zipping, buttoning a shirt, or completing tasks for toileting). It also includes or participating in age appropriate activities (e.g. handwriting, cutting, climbing, jumping etc.)

What are therapy goals of our Occupational Therapists?

Goals are to enhance self-esteem, academic skills, social and behavior skills, and to promote positive and safe play skills with children.  At Kara Dodds and Associates, our OT’s use play, which is the child’s “natural occupation” to improve foundation skills and independence so that children can participate in daily life activities at home, school, and in the community with other kids.  Our Occupational therapists collaborate with parents, and other professionals to create effective carry-over from the occupational therapy clinic to home.

Who Benefits From Occupational Therapy?

Our Occupational Therapists provide evaluation and treatment of children that may have:

  • Autism Spectrum Disorders:  Therapy targets teaching children with ASD better tools to self-regulate, facilitating better transitions and improved attention to tasks so that a child can participate in play, school and family activities.  Play based gross and fine motor skills are targeted to assist with coordination, daily living skills, academic learning and play skills.
  • Developmental Delays: which include intellectual disability, ADHD, or global developmental delay.  Therapy focuses on helping a child improve their skills in order to obtain and meet their developmental abilities skills related to play (e.g. fine motor, visual motor, gross motor) as well as improve self-help skills
  • Sensory Processing Disorders: is defined as a group of disorders that includes sensory seeking, low arousal, sensory avoidant behaviors and more.  Sensory processing Disorders are treated based on the type of sensations that the child is having difficulty regulating (e.g. tactile, auditory) Children are exposed to the activities within our sensory motor gym with the goals of fostering new and more appropriate responses to sensations in a fun and meaningful way.
  • Premature Birth and/or “at risk” for Developmental delay:  Therapy will help a baby obtain motor milestones creating a foundation for play with toys while developing fine motor skills, feeding skills, and managing sensory input.
  • Feeding and Oral Motor deficits (e.g. picky eaters, oral aversions, difficulty chewing).  Feeding therapy uses a sensory oral approach to feeding and the emphasis is on mealtime, allowing food to be fun not forced, and slowly introducing foods that are appropriate sensorial as well as anatomically and functionally for each child.
  • Chromosomal/Genetic Disorders: (e.g. Muscular Dystrophy, Down Syndrome, Fragile X Syndrome). Therapy fosters independence by targeting skills including self-care (feeding, dressing, toileting), fine motor and gross motor skills, and play skills.  Focuses in therapy include low muscle tone, motor skills (gross and fine motor), and visual and auditory deficits.
  • Learning Disabilities (e.g. dyslexia, non-verbal learning disability).Therapy targets developing skills including attention, visual perception, memory, executive function and writing skills and also adapt activities to teach compensatory strategies to create success.
  • Neurological Disorders (e.g. prenatal stroke, traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy, spina bifida).  Therapy targets and promotes independence through weight bearing activities, strengthening activities, constraint induced therapy, bilateral activities, fine motor practice, and muscle coordination activities.
  • Dyspraxia/Developmental Coordination Disorder (e.g. handwriting, fine motor, gross motor, and self-help).   Therapy focuses on improved motor skills, strength, perception, planning and organization.  In addition, difficulties with balance, ball skills, climbing skills, getting dressed, using utensils, and visual perception skills are addressed.
  • Attention Disorders / ADHD: Therapy targets improving sensory systems including touch, body awareness, body position in space, perception of movement, sight, sound, smell, taste and touch by facilitating effective self-regulation to assist with social emotional wellbeing, physical development, communication, self-care, and cognitive and adaptive skill development.
  • Orthopedic Conditions (e.g. fractures, malalignments, congenital conditions as they relate to self-help skills and adaptions as needed for occupations of the individual’s life).  Therapy focuses on regaining motor skills, including gross and fine motor, regaining self-help skills, and adapting the task so that the child can be more independent.
  • Mood and Anxiety disorders (e.g. PTSD, OCD, Bipolar disorder, depression).  Treatment goals are to establish routines, adapt tasks, participate in leisure and play activities, improve sensory regulation, and strategies for coping with triggers.
  • Emotional Disorders (e.g. panic disorders, emotional disturbance, OCD, oppositional defiant disorder). Therapy facilitates improved emotional awareness and improve emotional regulation, improve social skills, work on perspective taking, find the triggers, teach relaxation techniques, improve problem solving/ conflict resolution skills and teach coping strategies.

How Is Occupational Therapy Rendered?

At Kara Dodds and Associates, we have state of the art sensory motor gyms where fun and functional activities are incorporated into the therapy sessions to motivate the child to participate in activities. Kids love Occupational Therapy!

Children “learn” without really knowing they are “learning” by being in our sensory motor gyms.  Our Occupational Therapists may use specialized swings designed to improve vestibular and/or proprioceptive skills allowing children to experience specific movement sensations. Climbing (e.g. rock wall, ladders, cylinders, tunnels) are used to improve coordination, strength and endurance, which promote appropriate adaptive responses and improve the child’s abilities.  Therapy balls can be used to allow children sensory information by lying or sitting on them to improve balance and core strength.  Creating and moving through obstacle courses designed to improve motor planning, attention to task, sequencing, and completion of task are also used.

What Types Of Programs Are Used?

  • Zones of Regulation and the Alert Program
  • Handwriting without tears
  • Stretch what matters (yoga for children with special needs)
  • Neurodevelopmental Therapy Techniques
  • Brain Gym
  • SOS approach to feeding
  • Beckman oral motor techniques
  • Constraint Induced therapy
  • Kinesio Taping

What Types Of Therapy Is Offered?  

  • Fine Motor Skills
  • Sensory Integration Therapy and Sensory Diets
  • Neuroreeducation
  • Play and Socialization Skills
  • Social Groups
  • Visual Motor and Visual Perceptual Skills
  • Gross Motor Interventions/core strengthening and postural control
  • Bilateral Coordination and Balance Skills
  • Motor Planning and Praxis
  • Self-Regulation
  • Executive Functioning
  • Attention and Organization

Call us today at (619)692-0622 to speak to an Occupational Therapist to determine if your child can benefit from Occupational Therapy.

More Articles about Occupational Therapy

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Great therapists. They were the stepping stone for my daughter's speech. She is doing great, and they were the start of it.


News, Media and Blogs

Strength and Power Training for Children with Poor Coordination!

By Veronica Glen, PT, DPT (http://www.thesandiegopediatricpt.com/2017/01/strength-and-power-training-for-kiddos.html)

When Physical Therapists see a clumsy or uncoordinated child, one of the first thoughts we think is “That kid can use some balance training!” or “They could benefit from functional activity practice!” What current evidence based research is finding is that strength and power training can be just as helpful if not MORE helpful than functional movement training!

Read more ...