Occupational Therapy

In the early years after birth the physiotherapist together with the parent looks at the big developmental picture eg observing the developing child conquering gravity by moving against gravity.

The physio will help the child get into a position that makes it easier for the child to raise itself up against gravity and successfully explore her/his environment, interact with it in a playful manner and learn. The physio will help identify barriers, assess if there are any, within the child whether it be in the areas of coordination, muscle strength, stamina and mobility.

The physio, in cooperation with the parents/ cares, will offer activities that help the child overcome the identified barriers and work towards appropriate developmental goals, accessing the child’s full potential. At later life stages the physio might propose the use of equipment like walkers and standers as well as orthotics to assist the child with achieving gross motor developmental milestones like crawling, walking, jumping and running.

When appropriate the physio can assist with learning to ride a bicycle. Different environments can be explored to assist the child with it’s development including their own home, playground as well as the hydrotherapy pool. When the child reaches school age the physio can assist the educational team with advice re equipment use, advice on gross motor play inclusion and safety as well as play activities that promote gross motor development.

When including the whole of the human lifespan eg from the young child to the aged a physio will support the person involved with reaching functional goals that support quality of life. The main “therapist” who has the most influence on the child’s development or adult’s progression, is the person who is the closest and spends most of the time with the person eg parent, grandparent, teacher, spouse, carer.

The physio `will provide input and support to the main carer and the person involved. Ideally a home program will be established which the main carer and the person involved can implement with regular review and adjustments following ongoing improvements.

If needed and available, the physio will work closely with other allied health professionals involved with the person.

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Occupational Therapy for Children

OT’s generally work with children who have complex needs such as developmental delay or disability e.g., autism, ADD/ADHD, cerebral palsy, or head injury. OT’s may also work with children who have experience mental health conditions such as trauma or anxiety.

In the early years, an OT may assist with child development when it is felt that some extra stimulation may be helpful for the child’s general development & wellbeing. This is called “Early Intervention”. Referrals can be made of young children when no diagnosis has been made. 

Occupational therapists aim to help children develop their skills with daily living activities so they can participate fully at home, school, or preschool.This may include building foundation skills such as handwriting, cutting, tying shoelaces, self-care (dressing, feeding and toileting), concentration, attention, coordination, balance, and movement. OT’s can also work on helping children to socialize & make friends. 

In the early years (preschool, toddler & infancy), OT’s may help with developing play skills, early self-care activities (spoon & finger feeding) & foster early interactions with caregivers. These are helpful skills for socializing & making friends later.  

OT’s like to help your child to get the most they can from their learning, home & play environments. If your child has difficulty playing, socialising, or completing selfcare tasks consider seeing an occupational therapist.

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