Some children may have difficulty in their daily life. These limitations may be due to simple individual differences, as some children receive certain aspects better while others find them more difficult.
But sometimes the problems can be really worrying, especially if a disorder explains them. This is why intervention focused on improving the weaknesses that a child may present is a fundamental thing to achieve optimal intellectual and motor development.
Occupational therapy for children is responsible for detecting the limitations that a child may manifest, analyzing how to correct them and starting a program focused on this improvement, with the intention of achieving that it can be fully developed at home, at home. school and socially.
In this article we will talk about this type of therapy, explaining in more detail how it is carried out and what are the expected characteristics of professionals who practice it.
What is occupational therapy for children?
Occupational therapy for children is a type of intervention that specializes in find out what problems a child may have that prevent them from having a developmental pace and the expected life expectancy of other children of the same age. This type of therapy aims, once the limitations suffered by the child have been detected, to begin a process of overcoming them and to promote greater autonomy for the child.
Again it usually focuses on motor skills issuesSince they can cause problems by walking or grabbing objects, the truth is that they are trying to go a bit beyond that, and see if they could cause problems in the cognitive realm or even in perception. It aims to improve fine motor skills, gross motor skills and motor planning, in addition to self-regulation and sensory processing problems.
There are many reasons that can cause a child to suffer from a certain type of problem that affects their behavior and interaction with the world around them, including significant developmental disabilities and medical illnesses.
One of the disorders in which this type of intervention is most needed is dyspraxia, in which coordination problems arise, although it can also be applied in people with autism spectrum disorders, cerebral palsy and other development issues.
With the word “occupation” comes to indicate that this type of therapy focuses on providing the child with the necessary tools to be able to comply with daily activities like putting on shoes, using a pencil or scissors correctly, or preparing a backpack.
All these daily actions fall within various areas of fundamental importance for the mental and physical health of the child, as they are. personal care, recreation, social interaction and participation in activities in collaboration with other children.
Thus, child occupational therapy is a type of intervention that aims to make the child as independent and autonomous as expected at his age and thus obtain the rest of the learning that can occur in a natural way is done more. easily. This child-centered therapy can be practiced at school, in the child’s home, in hospital and in specialized health centers.
How is it made?
Learning, during the first years of life, takes place mainly through interaction with the environment.. Children relate to and become familiar with the world around them. This child-world interaction is what allows the child to develop, especially with regard to motor skills and intelligence.
Each child is a world and if we add to this that each facet of both behavioral and intellectual development can develop differently, it is possible that there are children more advanced in some respects while in others, they are quite late.
The environment in which he was raised and the stimuli he received from the people who make up his immediate environment can be key factors in explaining why the child has certain limitations.
It is for this reason that, to give an example, it is recommended from birth to speak to the child, even if he does not have the capacity to be able to pronounce simply “mum” or “dad”. The fact that he received this kind of stimulation from the moment he was born it helps the child to learn to speak quickly, more fluently and more quickly.
The therapy is tailored to the specific needs of the child, for this reason, before the start, the child occupational therapist must analyze the child, see what his skills are and what challenges are present in the child. understand what everyday tasks, whether at school or at home, are causing him problems.
On the basis of all this information, the professional must prepare an intervention program with activities focused on improving the child’s weaknesses.
Here are some examples of activities that are usually done in occupational therapy for children:
- Learn how to dress
- Write and draw
- Throwing and catching balls
- Arrange the table, the desk …
- Respond to sensory stimuli
- Obstacle course
The sooner this therapy is performed, the greater the benefits will be obtained.. Working on what is a problem and improving it can result in better satisfaction in the child, seeing that there are problems that apparently do not have a solution since they are solved, as well as improving his self esteem. This can have another positive effect, as can increased confidence in interacting with other children.
Detecting children’s limits in time is a fundamental thing, because children with problems, especially in the area of motor skills, are usually not very well accepted by other children, who may laugh at their difficulties, depress, affect them negatively. in their school performance and isolate themselves.
What Should Child Occupational Therapists Look Like?
Childhood is a critical period. This is why the professional who performs any type of child-centered therapy should be an expert in the field.
In the case of child occupational therapists, in addition to having in-depth knowledge of psychology and pedagogy, they must know the motor skills that allow improve fine and gross motor skills and aspects more related to the mind just like sensory planning and stimulation.
They must have sufficient skills to enable them to cope with the difficulties that children may undergo, either by intervening individually or in groups of varying sizes. In addition, you need to know what the interactions between these children are like and if there is some kind of social hierarchy in the group that depends on the difficulties of their members.
The occupational therapist has, as mentioned above, the main task of detecting to what extent the difficulties of the child prevent him from approaching the world, from having a satisfactory level of physical and psychological maturity and to what extent he is more backward than other children of the same age.
The professional intervention of children must respect the following phases:
- Assessment: define the professional profile of the child and carry out an analysis of his professional performance.
- First intervention to define the objectives to be achieved.
- Fully defined intervention.
- Evaluation of the results obtained.
- Analysis of the weaknesses of the therapy and improvement thereof.
- Vermell-Mota, G. (2008). Occupational therapy in the treatment of addictions. Addictive disorders, 10, 88-97.
- Viana-Moles, I. I Pellegrini-Spangeber, M. (2008). Contextual considerations in childhood. Introduction to child development. Occupational therapy in childhood.