Pediatric occupational therapists guide children from ages birth and up to help them learn new skills or regain function after an injury. Occupational therapy can help with children who have autism, developmental delay, fine motor delay, cerebral palsy, sensory processing dysfunction, hemiplegia (the paralysis of one side of the body), and problems with motor coordination.
Depending on the diagnosis, children spend time in therapy participating in a variety of activities. For example, drawing and handwriting help develop fine motor skills, while activities such as catching and tossing bean bags improve eye-hand coordination. Copying shapes from a chalkboard develops visual skills, while climbing up a suspended ladder strengthens muscles. Children involved in therapy are learning through play, so it doesn’t feel as if they are working. Each play activity is designed to help the child develop motor skills, learn how to play and engage with others, or learn how to process things they encounter in their environment.
How much occupational therapy is needed? That depends on the goals and needs for each child. Therapy focuses on improving problem areas and helping children to function as independently as possible. Some children reach their goals in as little as eight weeks, while others will stay in programs for many years.
Occupational therapy can help a child reach his or her maximum potential. If you are concerned about your child’s development or school performance or would like more information about Total Rehab Care and the pediatric program, please call 301.714.4025.
By Mendy Bishop and Anne Gill