Thursday, July 12, 2018

The Benefits of Occupational Therapy

Guest Post by: Caryl Anne Crowne

9 Benefits Your Child Will Receive from Occupational Therapy
Occupational therapy is a huge field that is gaining popularity. More educators, professionals and doctors are seeing how this simple intervention can help children in a myriad of ways. Since occupational therapy covers such a wide range of issues, it can be difficult to understand. The most basic goal of occupational therapy is to help children and adults learn the skills they need to accomplish tasks used in everyday life. Here are nine specific benefits your child may reap from occupational therapy.

1. Increased fine motor skills
One of the biggest goals in occupational therapy is to address difficulties that a child is experiencing in tasks that involve fine motor skills such as cutting with scissors, drawing, writing or tying a shoe. If a child struggles with holding a pencil, they will find it difficult to write which will, in turn, affect their academic progress. In fact, 
a study found that the strongest predictor of a special education referral was a lack of fine motor skills. Occupational therapists can help children practice these important skills to help them succeed in the classroom and beyond. 

2. Gross Motor Skills Development
In addition to an increase in fine motor skills levels, occupational therapy can help children develop gross motor skills. Gross motor skills involve movement in the muscles of arms, legs and other body parts. Some examples of activities could be running, walking, riding a bike etc. Depending on the age of the child there are certain levels of gross motor skills activities that should be natural to daily accomplish. An occupational therapist can help your child practice these skills and implement them into daily life.

3. Screening for assistive devices
An increase in awareness of special needs has resulted in more devices being created that assist children and adults in various ways with everyday routine activities. An occupational therapist can help assess your child's need for devices such as wheelchairs, communication aids, sensory aids, dressing devices, splints or even items as simple as a pencil grip. You might be surprised at what a huge difference a small device can make in your child's life.

4. Better sensory integration
Children who have even mild sensory issues can benefit from working with a professional towards greater sensory integration. 
Encouraging studies have shown that occupational therapy with an emphasis on sensory integration can help children with autism engage in age-appropriate activities. At times some children display sensory seeking behaviors such as repeatedly bumping into others or compulsively chewing non-food items while others are sensory avoidant and may have a difficult time with loud noises, public places or stimulating activities like toothbrushing.

5. Help with hand-eye coordination difficulties
Some children may have trouble with activities that require motor planning skills such as catching or throwing a ball or copying from a blackboard. These difficulties can be tricky to identify, as a child may seem to have the necessary skills to accomplish all parts of the task but remains unable to put them all together. Occupational therapy can help correctly identify and overcome these problems.

6. Better behavior
An occupational therapist's goal is to help their client interact more freely in the everyday activities of their life. If certain behavioral challenges are preventing a child from interactions in school or the home, therapists can help address those issues. Some common behavioral problems that occupational therapy can assist with are difficulty waiting, acting out or random violent outbursts towards others when angry, self-harming and difficulty with transitions.

7. Assistance with social skills
Meeting new people or knowing how to act in certain social contexts can be difficult for all of us at times, but some children find social interaction particularly challenging. Occupational therapy can give them the tools they need to form rewarding social relationships like introducing themselves, taking turns, back and forth conversation, giving attention when necessary and avoiding socially inappropriate behaviors.

8. Independence
With the help of a qualified therapist, children can achieve a myriad of goals in occupational therapy such as dressing themselves, writing, eating with utensils and much more. Helping them to gain skills in these tasks means that they will need less assistance or supervision from parents a regular basis and will gain a sense of independence which has positive outcomes for both the child and the caregivers.

9. Self-confidence
As occupational therapy helps your child overcome more of their difficulties, they will gain greater confidence in their abilities and ultimately in their self. This self-confidence can help them to readily take on new challenges in the future. Occupational therapy is truly about so much more than helping a child learn how to get dressed or say hi to a friend. It's a functional intervention to help your child live their life more fully and believe in their abilities.

Author Bio:
Caryl Anne Crowne is a media specialist and contributing author for the Aveanna Healthcare Blog. She regularly produces content for a variety of healthcare blogs covering topics such as caregiving, occupational therapy, geriatric and pediatric therapy as well as general medical solutions. 

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