If you have concerns about your child’s development or have recently seen your paediatrician and received a diagnosis you may feel overwhelmed or unsure about what to do next. Occupational Therapy is a great place to start due to the holistic approach that addresses all aspects of a person’s day to day functioning. An OT assessment can help you to work out what goals to start working on and give you practical strategies that you can use straight away. If other allied health or support services might help, OT can help identify what those are and point you in the right direction.
What Tropics OT can help with…
Parent coaching is a highly effective and evidence based therapeutic intervention where the OT works directly with parents to help support your child to achieve greater participation in everyday life. Research demonstrates this approach empowers parents to better manage situations and feel more confident when difficulties arise. This approach might be different to what you were expecting if you thought therapy intervention would be on an individual basis with your child. Parent coaching is MORE effective for some skills – this will be discussed with you as part of developing the most effective therapy approach for your child and family.
EMOTIONAL REGULATION AND BEHAVIOUR
Is your child is having more difficulty managing their emotions than other children the same age or are you struggling with how to deal with challenging behaviours? OT can help work out what might be causing big reactions and identify strategies you can use to help reduce problem behaviour. Many parents are already using good strategies and benefit from knowing what to keep doing as well as a few new ideas. Big emotions and behaviours don’t stop overnight but stress can be significantly reduced when parents are empowered with the understanding of WHY the child is struggling to self regulate.
FINE MOTOR SKILLS
If you have noticed that your preschool or school-aged child doesn’t know what hand they prefer, is not able to hold a pencil properly, can’t draw basic shapes or is not attempting to write their name, then it is a good idea to see an OT to get a few pointers on how to help. If your child starts Prep without the basic skills for readiness to learn to write, they may struggle at school and disengage from learning. It is important to seek advice before your child starts school. An OT assessment will also check out how your child is progressing with scissor skills and other fine motor tasks such as using eating utensils, tying shoelaces or managing buttons.
Some children experience difficulty with learning to use the toilet and there may be different reasons behind this. An OT assessment can help to work out what the underlying problem is and how to work towards toileting independence.
We all respond differently to sensory input but for some children it can interfere with emotional regulation, behaviour and the ability to participate in daily activities. If your child screams when having a haircut, fights tooth brushing or is distressed by certain noises, they may be experiencing sensory over-responsiveness which can lead to emotional outbursts or avoidance of certain situations. You may notice your child is constantly on the move, is always chewing pencils or shirts, sniffs everything or fidgets a lot. These kids are often under responsive to sensory input and may actively seek it out. Attention and focus may be reduced due to difficulty filtering sensory information. So many behaviours can be related to how your child processes sensory input – OT can do a formal sensory processing assessment to work out exactly what is going on so we can then identify strategies that can help with improving the ability to engage in home and school activities.
Play is a child’s primary occupation and it cannot be emphasised enough how important it is! Play helps children understand how other people think, develops language skills, story comprehension and logical sequential thought. Starting school with these skills provides the building blocks for literacy and social competence. OT can help with teaching play skills to both the child and parents. Many parents tell me they don’t know how to play with their child. Once you understand what is happening when your child is playing, you will be able to help them to extend their skills so they can be more successful in playing with others and independent play.