What is Occupational Therapy?
Occupational Therapy is a health care profession concerned with improving a person’s occupational performance.
In a children’s setting, the Occupational Therapist deals with children who have difficulties in daily occupations such as:
- home activities
- self care
–The first step in determining the level of need of a child suspected of having a difficulty in any of the above areas is to carry out an Occupational Therapy Assessment.
The Role of Occupational Therapy
If a child is suspected of having a developmental condition, an assessment can be carried out by a relevantly qualified occupational therapist who has taken post-graduate training in sensory integration. Assessments usually consist of both standardised testing and structured observation of posture, balance and coordination, as well as responses to their sensory environment.
The results of this assessment typically determine the level of need and can also indicate particular developmental conditions such as:
- Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) / Dyspraxia
- Sensory Processing Disorder
- Autistic Spectrum Disorders
- Asperger's Syndrome
- Down Syndrome
- Learning difficulties
After carefully analysing test results and assessment data from other professionals and parents, the therapist will make recommendations regarding appropriate therapy and will provide a profile of the child's sensory processing abilities and whether or not your child has a developmental difficulty.
All of the above conditions can be targeted with a tailored programme of Occupational Therapy, as provided by The Sunflower Clinic.
The Developmental Pyramid below represents the skills required to support those higher-level skills above them, in a similar way that the foundations of a house support the living spaces above. The results of the assessment indicate areas of the pyramid that need to be addressed in therapy.
It is often the case that difficulties which appear at the top of the pyramid are caused by difficulties with one of the supporting skills lower down, and identifying and treating these difficulties can lead to significant increases in performance ability.
For example, it may be revealed by the assessment that the child has a difficulty with shoulder stability, which could be having a detrimental effect on the quality of handwriting. In this case, a programme would be devised to target this difficulty and strengthen the shoulder area via a set of proscribed exercises, thus leading to an improvement in handwriting quality.