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What Is Occupational Therapy?
In its simplest terms, occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants help people across the lifespan participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities (occupations). Common occupational therapy interventions include helping children with disabilities to participate fully in school and social situations, helping people recovering from injury to regain skills, and providing supports for older adults experiencing physical and cognitive changes. Occupational therapy services typically include 

  • an individualized evaluation, during which the client/family and occupational therapist determine the person’s goals, 
  • customized intervention to improve the person’s ability to perform daily activities and reach the goals, and
  • an outcomes evaluation to ensure that the goals are being met and/or make changes to the intervention plan.
Occupational therapy services may include comprehensive evaluations of the client’s home and other environments (e.g., workplace, school), recommendations for adaptive equipment and training in its use, and guidance and education for family members and caregivers. Occupational therapy practitioners have a holistic perspective, in which the focus is on adapting the environment to fit the person, and the person is an integral part of the therapy team.

Fine motor help:
Break your crayons and tape paper to a wall. The position it creates for the hand and wrist promotes proper grasp development

Visit www.hwtears.com. Handwriting without Tears is a wonderful multisensory curriciulum based on development of skills

Sensory help:
Give your kid a break, a sensory break between periods of homework or sitting. To find thier just right level, you can increase their energy level if they were feeling sluggish by jumping, dancing, sour foods and smells, new texture experiences. To bring them down a little, yoga, animal walks (bear, crab, etc), carrying laundry up/down stairs.
Visit www.sensory street.com for downloadable sheets

Difficulty with transitions? Make a schedule with words or pictures. Use timers and remind them as time counts down. First this then that.

Learning Through Play
The act of playing is an important tool that influences a child’s life. The primary goals of childhood are to grow, learn, and play. It is often through play that children learn to make sense of the world around them. It is a child’s “job” or “occupation” to play to develop physical coordination, emotional maturity, social skills to interact with other children, and self-confidence to try new experiences and explore new environments. Occupational therapists have expertise in evaluating children’s neurological, muscular, and emotional development; and determining the effects of infant and childhood illness on growth and

What can an occupational therapist do?
Evaluate a child’s motor (movement), cognitive (thinking, reasoning), social–emotional, and behavioral development.
■ Recommend toys and play activities that promote healthy development and provide stimulation to the child.
■ Intervene when needed to promote development and skills for living.

What can parents and families do?
Encourage exploratory play by using balls, sand
and water toys, slides, swings, finger paints, and magnets. During exploratory play, children use their senses as they explore, discover, examine, and organize their activities.
Try manipulative play by asking the child to per- form a task, such as stacking cereal boxes, slipping coins into a piggy bank, or playing with a deck of cards. Handling items such as puzzles, pegboards, beads, and lacing cards test the child’s eye and hand coordination and dexterity.
Suggest imaginative or symbolic play that includes role-playing, playing with dolls and stuffed animals, toy furniture, and telephones. This type of pretend play encourages good social skills and a positive self-image.
Choose toys that are appropriate for the child’s age. They do not have to be expensive or complicated to be beneficial to the child. Common objects, such as pots and pans, empty boxes, spools of thread, shoelaces, and wooden spoons can stimulate activity. The best toys require active participation.
Remember when choosing a toy to consider whether a child must be supervised while playing with it. Toys should not have small parts that break easily or can be swallowed.
Occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants are trained in helping children with a broad range of issues in addition to the development of play skills, such as self-care and social skills, and proper computer and backpack use.

® The American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc. www.aota.org
Occupational Therapy: Skills for the Job of Living Tips for Living

Recommended Toys and Activities for Children and Teens
■ Rattles ■ Mobiles ■ Playmats ■ Mirrors  Crib toys  Infant swings  Teething toys  Busy boxes  Squeeze toys
Toddlers and Preschoolers
■ Blocks  Stacking rings ■ Pegboards  Shape sorters  Push and pull toys ■ Balls ■ Books  Sand and water toys  Large beads  Movement games  Toy cars and trucks  Train sets  Musical toys

School-Aged and Middle-Schoolers
■ Blocks  Building sets ■ Books ■ Bicycles ■ Rollerskates  Ice skates  Board games ■ Checkers  Beginning sports
■ Athletics ■ Books ■ Hobbies ■ Crafts
■ Electronics

Need more information?
A child’s inability to play well could indicate another problem, such as a learning disability or behavioral problem. If you would like to consult an occupational therapist, your physician, other health professionals, and your school district's director of special education may have information on how you can access an occupational therapist in your area.

For more information and tips on all ages from kids to grandparents, go to http://www.aota.org/Consumers.aspx
The American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc. www.aota.org
Occupational Therapy: Skills for the Job of Living
Copyright 2001 American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc. All Rights Reserved. This page may be reproduced and distributed without prior written consent.