Happy National Occupational Therapy Month everyone! This month is particularly meaningful because The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) just celebrated their 100th anniversary. The concept of engaging in meaningful therapeutic activities has been the foundation of occupational therapy since it was first developed during the early 20th century. Today, occupational therapy is used to help both adults and children to promote participation in activities and foster independence.
How Occupational Therapists Create a Plan of Treatment
Occupational therapists work with children of all ages and abilities to help them reach their greatest potential. Since children learn through interacting with the world around them, their biggest occupation is to play and learn. A trained occupational therapist can identify the needs of children who are experiencing developmental delays or challenges by observing how a child plays as well as understanding their typical home and school environments.
By working together with the guardians and child, an occupational therapist assesses the behaviors, abilities, and any developmental challenges the child might have. Once the therapist understands the child’s behaviors more clearly, they can begin to develop a plan with goals to help the child reach developmental milestones. After the plan is prepared and implemented, the therapist evaluates the child’s progress to make sure goals are being met and see if any changes need to be made to the plan of treatment.
Individual Needs an Occupational Therapist Can Address
By using an individualized one-on-one approach backed with input from the child’s guardians, occupational therapists gain a much deeper understanding of the child’s needs, family values, and how to make meaningful changes. Often, an occupational therapist will modify the child’s environment and teach them preferred behaviors by modeling skills and strategies to the child and their family members.
There are a variety of ways an occupational therapist can help children achieve their greatest potential. Below are some developmental milestones an occupational therapist might address for a toddler or child:
Facilitating movement to sit, crawl, or walk without assistance
Learning how to cope with failure or disappointment
Learning how to pay attention and follow instructions
Reducing excess environmental stimuli like noise
Building sharing and cooperation skills
Learning how to drink, eat, wash, and dress independently
Additionally, below are some examples of developmental milestones that might be addressed for older children and teens:
How to form and maintain friendships
Strengthening decision-making skills
Increasing overall independence
How to plan and transition to higher education
Improving time management
Navigating complex relationships like dating
The Benefits of Occupational Therapy for Children
Overall, the goal of occupational therapy is to help the child improve their life at home and in school. For children who have developmental delays, sensory processing disorder, or autism spectrum disorder, occupational therapy can address behavioral and environmental factors to help foster independence.
If you are interested in starting occupational therapy services for your child, we are ready to create a plan to help them reach developmental milestones. To start occupational therapy with the Sunny Days Sunshine Center, schedule a tour or evaluation by contacting us.