You might not have heard of a 'pediatric occupational therapist' or know what they can help you with....
Here are five common issues why families seek out a pediatric occupational therapist:
Developmental delays - you may wonder if your little one is meeting their motor, cognitive, social-emotional, or play milestones for their age. Sometimes chatting with a therapist you might feel you are on the right track or need a little strategy or two to get you align with where you want to. Pediatric occupational therapists specialize in assessing and addressing these delays through targeted interventions and activities designed to promote the development of these skills.
Sensory processing challenges: Children who struggle with sensory processing challenges may be over-responsive or under-responsive to sensory stimuli, leading to difficulties in regulating their responses to sensory input. Challenges can show up at home, daycare, at aftercare, school, and/or at community events. Challenges can wearing different clothes, upsets at transitions, stress at mealtimes and limited diets, difficulty with focus/attention with school based tasks, negative behaviors that show up and interferes with their ability to express their emotions. Pediatric occupational therapists are trained to evaluate sensory processing difficulties and develop personalized treatment plans to help children better process and respond to sensory information, ultimately improving their ability to participate in various activities.
Diagnoses specific - you could be seeking a therapist because your child has autism, ADHD, developmental coordination disorder (DCD), learning disability, anxiety disorder, failure to thrive, ARFID, etc. Occupational therapists can help children with various diagnosis to improve their motor skills, sensory processing skills, self-regulation, and social engagement through individualized interventions that consider their strengths and challenges. Goals are family driven and using a hollistic approach.
Motor skills - children might need support around gross/fine motor skills development. Common areas are handwriting difficulties, help with typing, grasping, using scissors efficiently, etc. Occupational therapists can provide interventions to improve hand strength, dexterity, and coordination, as well as address underlying factors that may be affecting a child's ability to write and complete other fine motor tasks.
Daily living skills - Some children may struggle with activities of daily living, such as dressing, feeding, and maintaining personal hygiene. Families may hire pediatric occupational therapists to help their child develop the skills and strategies needed to become more independent in these areas.
Overall, families hire pediatric occupational therapists to help their children overcome a wide range of challenges, from developmental delays to specific skill deficits, in order to support their overall participation and success in daily life.
Not sure where to find an occupational therapist (OT) in your area?
OT potential has a directory to find therapists by geographical area:
In Canada you can find an OT through CAOT:
You can also search within your province/state and check out college/regulatory bodies of occupational therapy websites.
There are many more areas that pediatric occupational therapists can help.
Thanks for reading and feel free to reach out to me by email: email@example.com if you have questions.
If you are interested in connecting in-person or virtually, you can email me to set up a time that works for you.
Have a great day,
Jessica Earle, Occupational Therapist
Located in Halifax, Nova Scotia but also helping families in rural areas of Nova Scotia, New-Brunswick and Manitoba.