April is Occupational Therapy Month

April is Occupational Therapy Month

Occupational therapy practitioners enable people of all ages to live life to its fullest by helping them promote health, and prevent—or live better with—injury, illness, or disability.

Common pediatric occupational therapy interventions include helping children with disabilities to participate fully in school and social situations, and recover from injury to regain skills.  A child’s primary “job” or “occupation” is to play. Through play, children develop motor coordination, social skills, emotional regulation, as well as learn how to process the sensory input in their environment.  The occupational therapists at JCFS Chicago’s Integrated Pediatric Therapies and Therapeutic Day School make sure each child has fun at work!

Our OTs evaluate children in four primary areas to determine a delay or difficulty in skills: cognitive or our thinking processes (cause/effect, problem-solving, reasoning), sensory processing, behavioral development and motor skills. The role of an occupational therapist is to help children develop age-appropriate skills in attention, coordination, feeding, fine motor, school and learning, self-cares and sensory processing, as well as increase strength, endurance and motor planning skills to improve success with daily activities, such as tying shoes and handwriting. Occupational therapy services are tailored to the child’s family, including siblings and other family members, and services alter and adapt as the family’s needs change.

According to the Mayo Clinic, occupational therapy can help with:

  • Challenging behaviors
  • Decreased visual perceptual skills
  • Difficulty coloring, writing or manipulating objects
  • Difficulty playing or interacting with peers
  • Hyperactivity or under arousal
  • Picky eating or poor oral motor skills for eating
  • Sensitivity to touch, texture or noise

Occupational therapy can help boost a child’s self-esteem and confidence along the way.  Developing and expanding a skill and using it correctly can encourage a child to try new activities, which is the foundation for continued learning and success.