Children with autism, ADHD, learning disabilities and other developmental disorders often face difficulties in navigating life independently. Occupational therapy is a client centered healthcare service that caters to the individual’s physical and mental health enabling them to be independent. OT focuses on the “function” and the “want” of the client. For a child, being independent enables them to explore, play and learn new skills like bilateral coordination, problem solving, writing, sorting and many more.
There are many reasons why a child might benefit from Occupational Therapy:
Struggle with self-care/ ADL: ADL are activities of daily living, this includes things like brushing teeth, bathing, dressing, tying laces, cutting fingernails etc. Some children may struggle with doing these tasks on a daily basis. They might not be able to follow the steps or make purposeful movements to complete the task.
Has a hard time with transitions: Transitioning from one task to the next is a stressful time for the child. Whether it’s going someplace new, going from play to a seated task, or dealing with change. At times parents may misinterpret this uneasiness as laziness or a tantrum.
Child avoids social interactions: Is your child avoiding eye contact ? Has trouble making friends? Getting anxious when there’s too many people? Hesitates playing with his/her peer group?
Difficulty in doing fine motor activities: We use our hands for everything from eating to dressing to playing. Pre-writing skills and writing skills are an important part of the normal development of the child. Fine motor difficulty leads to delay in achieving these milestones.
Mealtimes are stressful: Children with abnormal oral processing may react more strongly to oral stimuli. These kids could be described as “picky” or “selective” eaters, they might choke or gag easily, refuse to use spoons, and/or refuse to even brush their teeth. Many kids show some pickiness around 18 months which may last into childhood, but if the child refuses foods from a certain food group, or has a limited number of preferred foods, a feeding therapy evaluation may be beneficial.
Difficulty in problem solving or coming up with new ideas: Motor Planning impacts our ability to come up with new play ideas, problem-solving, and sequence. It allows us flexibility in participating in other people’s ideas. For a child, it allows them to take part in group play, interact with the environmental hurdles and come up with solutions on their own.
Poor emotional regulation: Lots of kids have trouble managing their emotions, but if they have meltdowns throughout the day and struggle to recover from these , an OT evaluation may help!
Depending on mood, surroundings, and therapeutic intervention, each child will have a different set of sensory needs.
For kids with autism and ADHD, the most crucial responsibility is, however, to identify and address the child’s sensory processing issues. This helps kids become calmer and more focused while also removing obstacles to learning. Pediatrics occupational therapy explores many creative avenues to achieve the best possible outcome.