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paediatric occupational therapy

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Empowering Young Minds: Occupational Therapy and Paediatrics

Updated: May 30


Occupational therapy (OT) is a dynamic and client-centred health profession aimed at promoting engagement and participation by enabling individuals to engage in meaningful activities, or occupations, of daily life. While occupational therapy serves individuals of all ages, occupational therapy and paediatrics focuses specifically on children and adolescents, addressing their unique developmental needs and challenges. Here at Beelieve Paediatric Therapy, we specialise in working with kids aged 0-15.



mobile occupational therapy


What is Paediatric Occupational Therapy?

Paediatric occupational therapy is a specialised branch of occupational therapy dedicated to working with children from infancy through adolescence. The primary goal is to support children in developing the skills necessary for successful participation in daily activities that are essential to their growth, learning, and independence.


Key Components of Paediatric Occupational Therapy:

1. Developmental Milestones:

Paediatric occupational therapists closely monitor and support children in achieving age-appropriate developmental milestones. This encompasses motor skills, cognitive abilities, social-emotional development, and self-care skills.


mobile occupational therapy gold coast

We recognise when there are developmental delays, and can implement strategies and techniques to help children develop skills to achieve their daily occupations - things like dressing, eating and play. We aim to help our clients live as normal a life as possible, and help in developing confidence, self-esteem, social skills and independence. Occupational therapy and paediatrics is a multi-faceted arm of care, as we have to think outside the box to develop these skills in fun, engaging ways that are likely to be enjoyed and therefore repeated for these skills to develop.




2. Play-Based Interventions:

Play is the language of childhood, and paediatric occupational therapists often use play-based interventions to engage children in purposeful activities that promote skill development. Through play, children enhance their motor coordination, social skills, and cognitive abilities.


3. Sensory Integration:

Sensory processing is a crucial aspect of paediatric occupational therapy. Therapists help children develop and refine their sensory processing skills, addressing challenges related to sensory sensitivity, motor planning, and self-regulation.


Occupational Therapy and Paediatrics


4. Fine and Gross Motor Skills:

Paediatric occupational therapists focus on developing both fine and gross motor skills. This includes activities that improve hand-eye coordination, handwriting, self-care tasks, and larger movements like running, jumping, and climbing.


5. Cognitive Skills:

Enhancing cognitive abilities such as attention, memory, problem-solving, and organisational skills is a key aspect of paediatric occupational therapy. This support is particularly beneficial for children facing challenges like ADHD or learning disabilities.


6. Social-Emotional Development:

Occupational therapists play a crucial role in supporting children's social and emotional well-being. This includes interventions to improve play skills, social interaction, and emotional regulation.


7. Activities of Daily Living (ADLs):

Paragraph: Paediatric occupational therapists assist children in developing the skills necessary for performing daily activities independently. This may involve tasks such as dressing, feeding, grooming, and toileting.


Do I Need a Referral For Occupational Therapy?

In many cases, a referral is not necessary to access paediatric occupational therapy services. Parents, caregivers, and educators can initiate contact with an occupational therapist if they observe any developmental concerns or challenges in a child's daily functioning.


paediatric occupational therapist


What We Treat

Paediatric occupational therapists wear many hats, addressing a diverse array of challenges that children may face. We are equipped to assist with challenges children may face in a range of areas throughout their lives, and recognise that there can be cross-overs of ability challenges and also therapy challenges depending on diagnosis.


When it comes to occupational therapy and paediatrics, we need to be open minded, not afraid to try new things, and be comfortable to always adjust and reframe our therapies.


What We Do During Sessions

Occupational Therapy and Paediatrics is a special kind of therapy. Our sessions are dynamic and tailored to meet the unique needs of each child.

Among the areas of therapy we address are:


Social and Play Skills:


whole body listening

Play and social skills are to some extent innate, that is, we learn and develop based on experiences. But sometimes children need some assistance, modelling and strategies to help them recognise and develop these skills. Paediatric OTs are trained to recognise where issues might be stemming from, as well as strategies to help minimise the area of concern.


Some areas we work with in this way include:

Whole-body listening

Following the group plan

Thinking with our eyes

Flexible and stuck thinking

Size of the problem

Hidden rules

Sharing and turn-taking


Emotional Regulation and Behaviour:

emotional regulation and behaviour

Emotional regulation can be incredibly difficult for a child to master, and in our fast paced modern world, these strategies are becoming increasingly important.


Paediatric occupational therapists can work to build on these skills, from foundational recognition of emotions, up to strategies to help calm a dis-regulated and overstimulated mind.


Some of the areas we can help with include:

Identifying emotions in others

Identifying emotions in themselves

Interoception (identifying and understanding your own body signals)

Co-regulation

Self-regulation


Sensory Processing:

Paediatric occupational therapists play a crucial role in helping children with sensory processing challenges. By focusing on modulating the body and identifying triggers in our environment along with compensatory strategies;, we can assist children in managing their responses to sensory stimuli, helping them achieve a state of calmness and focus. We also work on processing the surrounding environment, guiding children to interpret and respond appropriately to various sensory inputs, such as sounds, lights, textures and movement


Another important aspect of sensory processing from a paediatric occupational therapist’s perspective is supporting body awareness by helping children understand their own physical movements and positions in space, enhancing their ability to move confidently and comfortably in their environment. Through tailored interventions, paediatric occupational therapists empower children to navigate their sensory world more effectively, which in turn increases their attention and engagement in everyday tasks.


Handwriting

Occupational therapists can help children overcome specific challenges related to handwriting and improve their confidence, academic performance, and overall ability to communicate effectively through writing.

occupational therapy handwriting

Some of the areas we can help in this area include:

Handwriting speed

Letter formation

Pencil/pen grip

Using the helper hand

Utilising dominant hand

Crossing the midline


Fine Motor Skills:

One of the most spoken of aspects of occupational therapy and paediatrics is the area of fine motor skills, essential for performing everyday tasks and succeeding in school and beyond. Fine motor skills involve the coordination of small muscles in the hands and fingers, enabling tasks such as drawing, writing, and cutting with scissors. These activities require precision and control, which occupational therapists can help children improve through targeted exercises and practice.


Some of the many areas a paediatric occupational therapist can help with in fine motor skill development include:

fine motor activities for kindergarten

Drawing

Writing

Cutting with scissors

Tying shoelaces

Doing up buttons and zippers

Opening and closing lunchbox and containers



Visual Attention:

Paediatric occupational therapists play a key role in supporting children with visual attention, which is essential for learning and daily functioning. Visual attention involves the ability to focus on visual stimuli and process visual information effectively. Paediatric occupational therapists work with children to improve their ability to maintain attention on tasks such as reading, writing, and following directions.


We may use activities that engage the child's visual tracking and scanning abilities, which are crucial for activities like copying from the board or identifying objects in a busy environment. By enhancing visual attention, we can help our client’s better navigate their surroundings, engage in learning, and participate more fully in social interactions. Improved visual attention can lead to greater academic success, better performance in extracurricular activities, and enhanced safety in everyday situations.


Self-Care Skills:

Occupational therapy and paediatrics is an important element of any care plan, because we play a significant role in helping children develop self-care skills, which are essential for fostering independence and confidence. Self-care encompasses such essential daily tasks such as dressing, grooming, bathing, eating, and toileting.

children's occupational therapy

While some children are able to pick up and develop these skills autonomously, many will require assistance with one, some or all of these skills, and paediatric occupational therapists are qualified and equipped with a number of strategies to help - trust me, there’s nothing we haven’t seen before!

We can also assist with executive functioning skills such as planning and organising, which are important for managing self-care tasks efficiently. As children become more capable of taking care of themselves, they gain a sense of autonomy and self-esteem. These skills also prepare children for future challenges and responsibilities, such as attending school and eventually entering the workforce.


Some of the more common areas of self care we can assist with include:

Toileting

Teeth brushing

Bathing

Showering

Brushing hair

Dressing

Sleep

Organisation


Eating:

tools for fussy eaters

Eating issues are often something our client’s and their families will come to us with a degree of embarrassment and humility. Rest assured that feeding issues are common, and as paediatric occupational therapists, we are qualified to assist with techniques to reduce issues in this area and help build a healthy relationship with food. At Beelieve Paediatric Therapy, we utilise the SOS Feeding Programme to help children improve their eating skills and habits.



Where Do Paediatric Occupational Therapists Work?


Paediatric occupational therapists are flexible professionals who can work in various settings to meet the needs of children:


Homes: Conducting sessions in the comfort of a child's home, creating a familiar and relaxed environment.

Schools: Collaborating with educators to address challenges that may affect a child's academic performance.

Clinics: Providing focused therapy sessions in clinical settings equipped with resources tailored for paediatric needs.

Community: Engaging in community-based activities and interventions to address real-life challenges.


gold coast kids therapy

Beelieve Paediatric Therapy offers mobile occupational therapy, allowing us to come to you. This helps avoid the numerous potential stressors for our young clients, and the ability to work in a familiar and comfortable environment.

Occupational Therapy and Paediatrics is a very special form of therapy tailored to children and adolescents - a holistic and individualised approach to supporting children in reaching their full potential. By addressing a wide spectrum of challenges and fostering development in various life skills, paediatric occupational therapists play a crucial role in empowering young minds.


If you have concerns about your child's development, don't hesitate to explore the world of paediatric occupational therapy – where every session is a step towards unlocking a child's potential.


To book a consultation with Beelieve Paediatric Therapy, contact us today.

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