When you think of occupational therapy, you might think of an adult who has had an injury and needs to relearn how to bathe themselves or manage in the kitchen. But what does occupational therapy mean for a child? Rebecca Cain, an Occupational Therapist with The Therapy Tree in Lake Villa tells us that occupational therapy is
“a truly holistic approach to healthcare, and we are trained to consider all factors that contribute to growth and development including the physical, cognitive, psychological and emotional aspects of the person. If your child is struggling, and you feel that they are not reaching their potential in any area of their life, an OT evaluation can provide you with the insight and clarification you need in order to feel confident that you are doing everything possible to support your child and the health and happiness of your family as a whole.“
Some examples of challenges that pediatric occupational therapy might treat include:
- Learning to care for oneself: dressing, feeding, hygiene, falling asleep and staying asleep in your own bed.
- Following family routines, chores, mealtimes, caring for their room and things.
- Learning self control and to follow safety rules when in the community and with family.
- Learning to succeed at school: homework, organization, time-management, peer-related stressors.
- Learning to master skills such as riding a bike or playing neighborhood games so that they can form friendships and be active outside of school.
Occupational Therapy looks different with kids than with adults. Rebecca tells us,
“The art and science of pediatric therapy is figuring out how to motivate children to do things that are often very difficult. For example, a therapist can give an adult with muscle weakness a weight lifting regimen. With a child, we need to create games that incorporate muscle strengthening.
Also, with an adult, a therapist can have conversations about specific struggles or obstacles that are preventing them from reaching their goals. With children, we need to figure out what the obstacles are through detective work. I may have a child that wants to learn how to ride a bike. There could be muscle weakness, difficulty coordinating the left and right sides of the body, inaccurate feedback from the vestibular system, an unidentified functional vision issue, anxiety about falling and getting hurt, difficulty pedaling with the lower body while steering with the upper body simultaneously, the list is long. Children often cannot articulate what the roadblock is, so it is up to us to figure it out through observing them during play activities”.
At The Therapy Tree therapists utilize a unique approach that incorporates the mind and body, which means using physical activity and bodywork methods to affect mental clarity and well-being, as well as using mental health approaches to affect the chemical reactions and regulatory functions of the body. You truly can’t affect one without the other. For example, a child with ADHD not only benefits from craniosacral therapy and a reflex integration program to relax his body, but also requires learning coping skills to strengthen his self-image and self-esteem. Occupational Therapists work with other therapists within the same clinic to meet all of your child’s needs.
Their interactive gym also sets The Therapy Tree apart from other clinics. What child wouldn’t want to come ‘play’ on with the jungle gyms, trampolines, climbing walls, art supplies and games, all in the name of healing? Not only are they improving their mind and body, but they are having so much fun in the process!
How do you know if your child could benefit from Occupational Therapy, or physical therapy, speech therapy, feeding therapy, or counseling that TTT also offers? Licensed providers in the areas of Social Work, Speech Language Pathology, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Feeding Therapy provide all screenings and evaluations and can assess your child’s development and milestones. So if you have any doubts or questions about your child’s development or coping skills, give The Therapy Tree a call!
For more information about The Therapy Tree, see Jenna’s piece, The Therapy Tree: A One-Stop Shop for Wellness.
Disclosure: The Therapy Tree is a Little Lake County paid advertising partner.