A pediatric occupational therapist's goals are to train and assist children of all ages to maximize the proper skill needed in everyday self concepts of life. The occupation of childhood is to develop the skills necessary to become functional and independent as adults equipped with abilities in self care and processing skills. These development tools and interventions include:
- Sensory Integration (Refinement of sensory discrimination and processing)
- Training and refinement in the development of fine and gross motor skills
- Regulation of arousal levels as well as attention skills
- Memory development and training
- Assistance in visual and auditory processing (completing language loop)
- Integration of social skills along with cognitive and perceptual learning
- Feeding and Swallowing skills
- Proper self care skills such as: Toilet use, bathing, dressing and grooming
- Reinforce skills in play, school and everyday tasks
- Adaptation and skills necessary to carry out such tasks
The expectations for the level of development of any of these skills will vary depending on the child's age, including delays and disabilities. It is critical to remember that all of these skills are developing simultaneously. Impairment of one area is likely to stunt development in other areas.
Play is the media most often used in APT's pediatric occupational therapist's treatment of children. It is highly motivating and a natural media used by all children. APT provides a stimulating environment, reinforcing big motor and sensory skills found in our vestibular equipment such as swings, balls, slides and other toys to increase and support skills. Education and involvmement of the family is a primary consideration and critical to success.
Our occupational therapists support and assist in the treatment of a variety of pediatric delays and disabilities such as:
- Cerebral palsy
- Down syndrome
- FAS (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome) and Druge Exposed infants
- FG Syndrome
- Fragile X Syndrome
- Neurological Disorders
- Childhood Strokes
- Sports Injuries and Difficulties
- Premature Infants and Children
- Visually impaired (walking, balance and posture)
- Autism (evaluated assessment)
The occupational therapist will perform an initial evaluation to determine each child's specific needs, and abilities to create individualized, goal oriented sessions.
Sensory Integration - This is the foundation upon which all other skills are built.
- Return to the developmental hierarchy of large to small, gross to fine
- Appropriate arousal level - better learning arousal may be too high or too low
- Exploration of space = Better motor planning = Greater skill level
- Vestibular functioning that is more normal - improved auditory functions and completes communication loop
- Sustained grasp to hold onto equipment, weight bearing on hands
- Better fine motor skills = Better self care and academic skills