What Is An Occupational Therapist

by | Jul 31, 2020 | 0 comments

Occupational therapists enable people with disabilities to live their lives to the fullest. Occupational therapy (OT) helps people who struggle to undertake even everyday jobs because of their poor motor skills.

If your child has poor motor skills, occupational therapy can improve their lifestyle significantly. Occupational Therapy helps children with basic things like zipping the jacket to typing and writing. An occupational therapist can help your child overcome the barriers that are affecting their emotional, physical, and social needs with the help of exercises and other therapies.


What Is Occupational Therapy?

OT focuses on improving fine and gross motor skills and motor planning. Fine Motor skills include the ability to make movements involving the small muscles in hands and wrists. Gross Motor skills include the movements of large muscles, including those of legs, arms, and torso. Motor Planning is a skill that helps us to remember and repeat the steps to make a particular movement happen. 

The therapy can aid children who are struggling with sensory processing and self-regulation. Self-Regulation helps the kids to manage their behavior, emotions, and body movements when facing a difficult situation.

Every child has specific needs, and the therapy is customized to take care of those needs. Before starting the treatment, the therapist observes the child for strengths and challenges, including the tasks that a child finds challenging. Your therapist will create an activity list for the child. Some of the tasks and skills that an occupational therapist can help improvise are:

  • Self-care tasks, including getting dressed, tying shoes, and combing.
  • Writing and typing tasks that involve fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
  • Holding and controlling a pen, using scissors, throwing, and catching, which involves motor planning, Fine motor skills, balance, and coordination.
  • Reacting to appropriate sensory input, which consolidates self-regulation skills or organizing a backpack that involves motor planning and organization skills.

The Effectiveness Of An Occupational Therapist

An occupational therapist works with the aid of exercises and activities to strengthen the otherwise weak skills. If, for example, your child has messy handwriting, which is a result of troubled motor skills, the therapist can include multi-sensory techniques to improvise on the same. (Young children are not expected to write neat, but as the child grows older, if the practice does not yield any results, it might be because of weak motor skills.) If your child is struggling with focus, your occupational therapist can assist him/her with full-body exercises, before he/she sits down to write.

The effectiveness of the therapy and the therapist depends upon the age too. The earlier you opt for the therapist, the better are the results. When your child is able to complete routine chores from an early age, it reflects in his self-esteem and boosts confidence, which can otherwise drop, if they keep on struggling to complete these tasks in front of their friends. Struggling with motor skills makes the child feel clumsy, and being perceived “different” by the peers, can expose these children to a risk of bullying, and they can end up feeling like victims.

An Occupational therapist helps the child to improvise at the tasks, which otherwise seem difficult, or at some point – impossible. The constant care and experience can help the child learn effectively and efficiently.


The Specific Challenges That Your Occupational Therapist Can Cover

Several developmental challenges can benefit from an occupational therapist. Dyspraxia, a kind of developmental coordination disorder, is one such example. Your therapist can assist your child with activities identified to improve motor skills. One activity to develop the Fine Motor Skills of your kid involves using a tweeze to pick things up. For assistance with the hand-dominance, a child can practice cutting things with scissors. Building gross motor skills take in exercises like jumping jacks or running an obstacle course. A therapist can change the sequence of activities, which he/she deems fit after a specific period.

Involving a therapist to assist kids who are weak with their sensory processing is extremely helpful. Kids, who struggle with sensory processing, find it hard to process the information. They might underreact or overreact to the things that they touch, smell, hear, taste, or see. This can lead to the meltdowns, and the child can become hyperactive.

In such cases, a therapist might structure a sensory diet. A sensory diet is a cluster of physical activities that can help the child to stay calm and alert at the appropriate times. These activities can help your child with the sensory input that they require. The therapist can also suggest heavy work, which involves activities that can pull or push against the body, to avoid particular kinds of sensory inputs.

If your child is struggling with dyslexia, executive functioning issues, dysgraphia, or visual processing issues, an occupational therapist can help your child to improve their everyday life, with a focus on minimizing the impact of any health issues on the developmental progress.

Who Else Can Benefit From The Occupational Therapy? 

Occupational therapy is a must for children with developmental coordination disorders. OT can help other categories too, including;

  • Teenagers with ADHD, who are having trouble focussing in the school or completing tasks. An occupational therapist can improve their memory, attention, planning, impulse control, and social skills.
  • An adult with depression and anxiety who can seek improvement by developing healthier habits and effective management of the symptoms.
  • An older adult with a weakened one side due to a stroke can seek help to improve the endurance, strength, and range of motion.

How To Find The Right Occupational Therapist For Your Child?

Improving the lives of their children is the principal focus of so many parents. You should seek professional help from an occupational therapist to make your child’s future better. You can talk to your family doctor about a referral to the occupational therapist. You can also speak with the guidance counselor or the school nurse, and they might be able to make a recommendation based on the social and academic needs of your child.

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