5 Ways Occupational Therapy Can Change Your Child’s Life

Although our occupational therapy clinic is new to the Modesto market, our Therapeutic Playground team has been providing occupational therapy services to local kids for decades. Over the years, we have seen first-hand how effective occupational therapy activities for children can be. While we could go on and on about different reasons we love occupational therapy (OT), here are just 5 ways we believe OT can change young lives.

Improving Fine Motor Skills
Occupational therapy can be incredibly effective in improving fine motor skills. You might be thinking, why would that matter to my child? Well, fine motor skills are what our kids use to hold their pencil, to cut with scissors, to hold utensils to feed themselves and to perform many other daily functions both at school and home. A child struggling with their fine motor skills may fall behind at school and may be embarrassed during social situations. Luckily there are lots of fun ways occupational therapy works to improve fine motor skills - depending on the individual child’s needs. Things like therapy putty, crafts with cutting and pasting, making slime and working with it and even certain games can all strengthen a child’s fine motor skills while they think they are just playing and there isn’t a pencil in sight!

Improving Gross Motor Skills
Like fine motor skills, kids use their gross motor skills every day during school and at home. Whether they are playing on the playground, riding a bike or simply running around, movement is incredibly important for children and their gross motor skills are key to their ability to move successfully. It might surprise people to hear that teaching kids to skip, swing their arms when walking, swing on a swing or ride a bike creates brain connections that extend to their learning at school. Occupational therapy uses motor learning like swinging on a swing, scooting on a scooter board, climbing rock walls, tossing balls and even sliding down slides as fun ways to help kids get better at gross motor planning and coordination.

Identifying & Improving Visual Perception
Sadly, many children slip through our school system with vision issues that are misdiagnosed as other conditions like dyslexia and ADD/ADHD. Occupational therapy can help identify vision issues that might cause a child to struggle in school particularly with their reading fluency and comprehension. Once identified, visual perception can be improved by employing a variety of techniques and by strengthening the muscles around a child’s eyes thereby setting them up for future success.

Addressing Sensory Issues
Children who struggle with sensory issues will struggle to learn. Occupational therapy offers various treatment methodologies to help these kids find sensory integration.  At our clinic, we utilize tools such as pressure/compression, various swings and a sensory room to help these kids perform the tasks that are vital to their day-to-day living and school success.

Extending Beyond the Clinic
One of the unique things about occupational activities for kids is that many can be performed at home during the week. While finding the right Occupational Therapist (OT) to identify the initial issues and provide the right treatment is key, it is exciting that parents can continue the work at home with their own kids. Your OT can suggest fun things like Jenga (for fine motor skills), time at the playground swinging (for gross motor skills), balance-audio-vision-exercises that can be done at home (for visual perception) and tools like crash pads, weight blankets or compression shirts to help with sensory issues.

Early intervention can make a huge difference.  If you notice your child struggling or your gut is telling you something isn’t quite right, don’t wait. We encourage you to pursue diagnosis and see if occupational therapy might be a potential treatment.

Our team at The Playground is committed to helping every child reach their full potential. Feel free to contact us if you think we can be of help to you and your family.