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Occupational Therapy for Special Needs Children

written by: Sharon Dominica • edited by: Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch • updated: 9/11/2012

Wondering about what an Occupational Therapist can do to help your child? This article helps you understand what is Occupational Therapy. Special needs children benefit from interventions by an Occupational Therapist. Read on to learn more.

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    Occupational Therapy: Special Needs Children

    Children with special needs interact and get help from a variety of medical professionals. Parents often find this overwhelming. This article described the role and purpose of occupational therapy in the life of a child with special needs. It can also help parents understand better what their occupational therapist is aiming to achieve with their child.

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    Goals of Occupational Therapy

    The goals of occupational therapy for a child are to improve participation and performance of a child and all the child’s “occupations” like self care, play, school and other daily activities. The occupational therapist will assess the child and modify the environment, or the way of doing a task to promote better participation and independence. Sometimes, the occupational therapist works with the child to help improve specific skills to help a child perform better. They also work towards educating parents, teachers and others so that they can help the child be more comfortable and participate well in the community.

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    Occupational Therapy Strategies

    Some common strategies used by occupational therapists are to use various activities, and even play, in order to teach new skills. Occupational therapists grade activities, and make them a little more challenging, as the child learns the skill. They also give the child sensory input and cuing to help them perform better. Occupational therapists also teach various compensatory strategies to help the child be independent.

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    Occupational Therapy : Special Needs Interventions

    Self care: An occupational therapist will help a child perform and be independent in self care skills like eating, dressing, toileting, bathing and grooming. They may also suggest some adaptations that will help the child be independent, or even decrease the burden on the parents.

    Play: An Occupational therapist helps children participate and interact with others in play. They may suggest modifications in the position, mobility aids or modified toys to help a child play.

    School: Occupational therapists help children participate and adapt to regular school. They may suggest aids for writing, and other classroom activities to help them participate equally with other children. Children with special needs may also require special furniture to help them sit and write better.

    Environmental modifications:Occupational therapists can suggest modifications in the home, school, or playground that will help the child participate more easily. Helping the child become independent early in life, will encourage them to live independently as an adult.

    Fine motor skills and Handwriting: Occupational therapists also play a role in helping a child improve their fine motor skills and handwriting. They will be able to identify the specific deficits in the child and suggest activities that will help improve those skills.

    Splinting: Occupational therapists can also make simple splints to help the child perform activities in a better way.

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    Where can I find an Occupational Therapist?

    Occupational Therapists are part of the team at most hospitals, and rehabilitation centers. Many special schools will have their own occupational therapist. Some regular schools too, have occupational therapists working with children.

    Here is a link to help you find the right Occupational Therapist.

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    References:

    Occupational Therapy for children, Jane Case- Smith, 5th Edition


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