Occupational Therapy (OT)
OT is a skilled treatment that assists people of all ages, from newborns through the elderly, adapt and improve their skills to perform life tasks. For the child in school, occupational therapy can help the child adapt or develop skills that would improve his/her self care abilities and/ or academic performance. Occupational Therapy goals and treatments are varied or individualized to meet the specific needs of the child.
Types of Treatments
Occupational Therapy addresses many areas and needs including the child's psychological, social, and physical well being. These areas can impact upon the child's ability to properly function or perform on classroom tasks. The specific areas covered in OT include, but not limited to the following:
- Sensory Integration- refers to the child's ability to organize and process information received from sensory experiences. Sensory experiences include touch, movement, body awareness, sing and sound, among others.
- Gross Motor- refers to the child's ability to coordinate limbs and movements to perform specific large muscle tasks. This area can be then broken down into other specific skill sets including: muscle tone (for strength and stability of joints); balance (static, dynamic, and/ or unilateral); coordination of limb/limbs (unilateral, bilateral); and/or motor planning (sequencing a multi-step motor task).
- Fine Motor - refers to a child's ability to coordinate limbs and movements to perform specific small muscle tasks. This area can be broken down into other specific skill sets including: muscle tone (for posture, strength and stability of joints); bilateral coordination (for writing cutting, stringing beads, etc.); grasp or comprehension patterns (ability to properly and effectively pick up and hold small objects including pencils, crayons, scissors); and/or speed and dexterity (ability to quickly move limb while manipulating small objects).
- Visual Motor - refers to the child's ability to translate and reproduces what he/she sees into a motor task. This term describes the child's ability to copy letters, numbers, shapes or drawings using a pencil, blocks, or puzzle pieces.
- Visual Perception - refers to child's ability to interpret what he/she sees with/without motor involvement. Visual perception is an important factor in such academics as reading, writing, and math concepts. One example of a possible visual perceptual impairment is when a child recognizes/perceives the letter "b" is either a "p" or "d"; thus not correctly reading or writing a word.
- Handwriting - refers to the child's ability to write in print or cursive. This areas is then broken down into several sections including: grasping (ability to properly hold a pencil/crayon); endurance (ability to write for increasing periods of time); formation (ability to correctly form letters using instructional techniques); line awareness (ability to have letters sit properly on the line); height (ability to maintain proper letter size while writing); and/or spacing (ability to space letters properly when writing words and when separating words).
- Self Care - refers to the child's ability to perform tasks that foster independence when caring for his/herself. Although self-care skills are usually adequate when entering Kindergarten, children may struggle with the small motor aspects of dressing (buttons, zippers, snaps, shoelaces). This OT program may also instruct children with proper hand washing or grooming skills.
How do you know if your child requires Occupational Therapy?
It is best to ask your teacher for his/her input regarding your child's classroom performance. Teachers and make key observations regarding the child's coordination control/ease of movements, and/or behaviors. Together this information is shared with the building principal and other staff at an Instructional Support Team (IST) meeting. At that time recommendations may be made to the Occupational Therapist, or other vital staff, for additional observation, screening (informal testing) or standardized (formal) testing. If standardized testing were required, the Committee on Special Education would contact the child's parents for consent.
Where can I find more information about the above topics?
Check out the following links: