Occupational therapy is a field that helps people work on their functional and occupational skills, including things like daily living. There has been a rise in parents seeking these services for children, for a variety of reasons. First of all, parents are more educated and open to the idea of getting assistance for their delayed child than in the past. Secondly, there have been more studies done and there are more services tailored for children today, proving that it is a valuable field.
How can children benefit from occupational therapy? Why is it becoming such a popular choice among parents and providers? In Australia, there are a growing number of occupational therapy NDIS providers that focus on working with children. And most importantly, how can you decide if this is something that will benefit your child? Read on to learn everything that you need to know.
What is Occupational Therapy?
Occupational therapy refers to therapeutic processes and treatments that can help people of any age with functional, developmental, or occupational skills. For example, if someone breaks their hand and needs to be able to return to their typing job, they may need occupational therapy to re-learn how to type after the injury has healed.
In the case of children, occupational therapy usually focuses on developmental delays and functional skills that fall behind, offering a way for children to catch up faster and avoid being left behind for the entirety of their lives (like what often happened in the past). Today, occupational therapy is becoming one of the most common options for those who need help re-learning skills due to accidents, injuries, medical conditions, and even developmental delays or other causes.
How Can Children Benefit
Children who attend some kind of occupational therapy will find several different benefits. It can boost children’s self-esteem and help them feel more independent than they were before. Other perks include the ability to improve both gross and fine motor skills, improve communication abilities, and enhance their developmental skills.
Occupational therapy can also address sensory processing issues and help children better respond to stimuli, such as tolerating food textures or clothing. It also enhances social skills and can even help with executive functions like memory, organization, and attention. This makes it easier for children to complete daily routines and be more independent.
There’s also the additional benefit today of assistive technology, such as adaptive scissors, dressing aids, text-to-speech devices, and more. When you enroll children in occupational therapy, you give them the opportunity to lead an entirely new life. You’ll also get education and assistance to help you learn how to help your child better, so even after the OT sessions end, you’ll still be able to give your child the assistance they need to continue with their therapeutic development.
OT for Autism Spectrum Disorder
Children who are on the autism spectrum or otherwise neurodivergent can benefit from occupational therapy for several reasons. These conditions often result in developmental delays and a variety of struggles with functional tasks. Therefore, having occupational therapy services can help children learn the appropriate life skills and developmental skills for their age so that they can stay on par with their peers and don’t fall behind.
In fact, as part of early intervention for ASDs, occupational therapy has proven to help children improve their cognitive and functional abilities so that they are less affected by their conditions. There are several different types of therapy, including in-home sessions and schools that focus on methods like Applied Behavioural Analysis, or ABA therapy, which is essentially a way of teaching using short, repetitive lessons followed by rewards for accomplishments and completing lessons.
The Growing Value of Occupational Therapy
As studies have been done over time, the world has seen how assisting children at younger ages may be able to prevent the need to assist adults with similar skills and tasks. Since we no longer live in a world where people are content to sweep things under the rug, it’s easier to find solutions at younger ages when issues first present themselves. Even if your child isn’t on the spectrum and just struggles with some regular tasks, this could be a good solution.
There’s also occupational therapy to assist with recovery from injuries and other physical conditions that affect coordination, development, and other abilities. These sessions can help children retrain their muscle memory and improve their coordination, as well as to improve their functional skills and physical abilities all around.
The bottom line is that there are several reasons the world of occupational therapy for children is growing, and as you can see, there are plenty of benefits to be had, as well. If you have a child that seems to be struggling or in need of a little help, it might be time to ask about an NDIS occupational therapist that can get your child back on track.