Pediatric occupational therapists evaluate referred students and, where necessary, help them to develop, improve and practice tasks and activities of daily living both in school and at play, enabling students to become more functional, successful and independent. An important part of the treatment process is close cooperation with the parents, other therapists, class and learning support teachers.
The program involves the treatment of:
Gross Motor Skills
For good gross-motor control, we need regulated muscle tone, good posture, coordinated and fluid movement. Some children have low muscle tone, so they need to use much more effort to coordinate their movements. This may result in concentration problems, difficulties sitting still, tiring easily and poor posture whilst sitting.
Fine Motor Skills and Handwriting (including Vision)
For good fine-motor control, we need well-developed and differentiated shoulder, arm, and hand movements, correct use of force, and bilateral coordination. This enables us to use precise grips and both our hands together in a skilled manner. Some children are unable to use their hands with palms facing upwards. This may result in poor handwriting, clumsy grasp and release skills, difficulties with shoe tying and buttoning. For many fine-motor skills we also need good visual-motor (hand-eye) and visual-perceptual skills in order to basic skills like cutting out a picture, hammering in a nail, or writing on lined paper.
Sensory Processing and Integration
In order to be successful in school, where cognitive and perceptual skills are most important, a child has to be well-organized and attentive and be able to carry out complex tasks in a step-by-step, logical way in order to complete assignments.
Some children have problems starting a task, because they cannot remember what the teacher told them to do. Some have difficulty putting their thoughts down in writing; they may have lots of ideas, but no structure. Without good sensory-motor development, as described above, this process is hindered and prevents the child from achieving their true potential.