As an independent Occupational Therapist (OT) I am often asked what an OT is and what occupational therapy does. I decided I would cover exactly this in a blog post, to help you understand what I do, the children I work with and how I could help your child.

What Is Occupational Therapy?

If a child or young person has learning, sensory or physical difficulties, their ability to learn, socialise and play can be affected. Occupational Therapy focuses on helping children that have a physical, sensory or cognitive disability. An occupational therapist will help these children be as independent as possible in all areas of their lives.

• Occupational Therapy helps children and young people to participate as fully as possible in their daily activities.

• Occupational Therapists (OTs) help children and young people to carry out the things they need or want to do in areas of self-care, school work and play.

As an occupational therapist in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire, I can help children with various needs, from some Handwriting help, to social skills programmes, Sensory assessment and diets, equipment recommendations and much more. Occupational Therapy will encourage improvement in their attention and memory, fine and gross motor skills, Sensory regulation and independence skills. This will, in turn, help enhance a child’s self esteem and sense of accomplishment.

As an OT I will spend time with your child, watching and engaging with them in play, learning, and other everyday activities. I will assess and compare their performance with what is developmentally appropriate for that age group and make recommendations on the best intervention for them. Much of my Occupational Therapy goals are worked on through carefully selected play activities to maximise your child’s participation and development.

Which Children Need Occupational Therapy?

A wide range of children would benefit from seeing an occupational therapist, or from experiencing occupational therapy. I am happy to discuss any concerns you have as a parent and let you know if and how I could be able to help.

Broadly speaking I work as an occupational therapist in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire with children that have:

• sensory processing disorders,

• learning difficulties,

• Autism, PDA and ADHD

• neuro-developmental disorders,

• Cerebral Palsy, acquired brain injury or PMLD,

• Genetic conditions,

• Developmental Delay.

I also work with children struggling with anxiety, self esteem or their mental health or children with behavioural difficulties. Many of the children I see are pre-diagnosis or on their journey to finding answers and this is absolutely not a barrier to accessing Occupational Therapy. I believe that early intervention is key to improving children’s outcomes.

What Does Occupational Therapy Do?

We work with children and young people from birth up to 25 years of age who have difficulties or a disability which affects their ability to carry out everyday tasks. We see children and young people within a variety of settings, including nurseries, schools, special schools and their home.

I do lots of different things as part of occupational therapy, but I thought I would put together some examples of what I have done with children so you can get a better understanding of how I, or another occupational therapist, could help your child.

• Helping children work on their fine motor skills. This allows them to manipulate, grasp and release toys, manage buttons, zips and laces, use cutlery and also develop good handwriting skills.

• Supporting the development of Gross Motor Skills. Including ball skills, skipping, jumping, running and balancing.

• Addressing hand-eye coordination and visual perception. This helps a child improve their play and school skills, for example getting a ball into a target or copying from the board and knowing where their body is in space.

• Supporting children with self care tasks such as dressing, eating, hygiene, toileting, doing shoes laces, buttoning, bathing, brushing teeth and self-feeding.

• Helping children develop play skills, including imaginative play, purposeful, structured and sequenced play, developing ideational skills and expanding on play concepts.

• Supporting children with Social skills such as friendship, taking turns, sharing, reciprocal play, reading social cues, reading facial expressions, understanding feelings and emotions.

• Addressing Mechanical difficulties such as posture, seating, and muscle tone.

• Addressing Sensory abilities including coordination, sensory processing, body awareness, balance, and motor planning.

• Development of cognitive abilities such as attention, memory, organisation and planning.

• Supporting children with Sensory processing difficulties who have difficulty with interpreting sensory feedback, are defensive to specific sensory stimuli, or who have behavioural difficulties and anxiety related to sensory input eg. strongly react to hair cutting or brushing, don’t like tags on clothing, irritated by clothes and socks and certain fabrics, or become distressed in noisy environments.

These are just some of the many examples of what occupational therapy does. In addition to this many people use Occupational Therapists to provide detailed assessments to support diagnosis or EHCP applications. Occupational therapy groups are also hugely beneficial to children and provide access to affordable therapy.

If you feel that your child would benefit from occupational therapy then please get in touch with me. I would be happy to discuss your concerns and create a plan of action to help your child live their best possible life.

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