Occupational therapists at The Therapy Place help children develop and build skills important for independent functioning, health, well-being, security, and happiness.
The occupational therapist's focus is on a child's main responsibilities-playing and learning and his or her role as a student, friend, sibling, and son or daughter. Therapy is designed to seem like play, yet the therapists are actually creating a controlled environment that stimulates the sensory systems and provides the "just right" challenge for the child to move about and interact with his/her environment. Therapists at The Therapy Place have extensive training in determining challenging therapeutic activities aimed at assisting children to reach their greatest functional independence.
Comprehensive evaluations are offered in areas including: gross and fine motor skills, cognitive function, visual perception, self-care skills, neurosensory processing skills, and social skills. Therapists are certified to administer the Sensory Integration and Praxis Test, as well as developmental and motor proficiency tests.
- Sensory Integration. When our senses are integrated, the many parts of the nervous system work together so that we interact with the environment effectively. A child with inaccurate feedback about his sense of touch, body position, movement, or gravity struggles to perform tasks common to his peers and does not feel the usual security, safety, confidence, and enjoyment other children do. In therapy, the child engages in activities that provide an appropriate amount of sensory input-sound, touch, pressure, and movement. The child's responses become more automatic as his nervous system becomes more organized. This allows for accurate perceptions needed for building more complex skills.
- Fine motor coordination. Fine motor skills involve coordinating precise, controlled hand movements to perform an activity. Many functions contribute to fine motor skills, including muscle control, hand-eye control, and coordination. For children, fine motor coordination is essential to performing daily tasks such as using pencils, tying shoes, and opening and closing backpacks. Treatment includes activities and exercises that strengthen certain muscle groups, offer repetitive practice of tasks, or introduce adaptive equipment.
- Gross motor skill development. Gross motor skills involve the child's large muscle groups, which enable the child to accomplish physical challenges (climbing, running, swinging). Occupational therapists provide treatment activities based on the child's special needs. Issues such as balance, equilibrium, varying muscle tones, and overall coordination are addressed.
- Activities of daily living. The level of independence experienced by a child with special needs is greatly enhanced when he or she can accomplish self-care and other daily living skills on their own, including toileting, eating, dressing, and hygiene. Children delayed in these areas may benefit from occupational therapy, which includes instruction and practice, adaptations, and guidance for parents and caregivers.