What is Occupational Therapy?
Occupational therapists focus on a child’s ability to function and develop independently. We get involved when a child needs help to be independent in their everyday life and to function at a level that is appropriate for their age or ability.
Occupational therapists work directly with the child and the environment the child lives in. When considering a child’s everyday life we look at the following areas:
• Education (that is nursery or school)
• Social participation.
The types of difficulties we see children have in these areas can include:
Play and leisure
• Being unable to make use of play materials and playground equipment
• Avoiding play activities
• Being unable to play independently or with their peers
• Playing in a limited way
• Having difficulty catching and/or throwing balls, skipping or riding a bike
Having difficulty with:
• Sitting still
• Copying from the board
• Organising their work and belongings.
Having difficulty with:
• Using cutlery
• Washing themselves
• Using the toilet (including needing support to use the toilet)
• Keeping themselves safe.
• Difficulties with managing their behavior in relation to others (for example, hitting, biting, using excessive force such as hugging too hard
• Excessive or sudden tantrums
• Being unable to detach from an adult
• Requiring constant support from an adult when doing any activity.
If a child is having difficulty in one or more of these areas, we consider what underlying difficulties could be causing this. These underlying difficulties are sometimes difficulties in the child’s environment or within the child, that is:
• Sensory processing
• Motor difficulties
• Cognitive difficulties
• Psychological difficulties
• Social difficulties.
We use age-appropriate activities to address the underlying difficulties in order to increase independence, enhance development and prevent disability. Therapy often seems like play and can include school related tasks, self-care or social participation. Therapy can also lead to everyday tasks or the environment being adapted in order to support the child in becoming more independent.
What services do we provide?
Our occupational therapists work with all the above areas. We offer consultations, assessments, therapy sessions and school and home programmes.
We also run training sessions for teachers and other professionals on general or specific occupational therapy issues. We see children either at their school, nursery or home or, depending on the need, in one of the specialised clinic rooms at one of our Family Centres.
Who do we support?
We work with children aged 0-19 years who are having difficulties with independent function and development. These difficulties can either be in relation to other children or in one of the main functional areas mentioned above. Some of these children may have a statement of special educational needs. We receive referrals from parents, local education authorities and from other professionals. We work closely with parents, teachers and the other people involved with each child. We provide direct therapy sessions in which we include adults wherever possible and appropriate. We also offer support to families and schools so that they are able to integrate strategies and approaches in the child’s everyday life.