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Building a Bright Future: The Role of Occupational Therapists in Pediatric Care

Nothing is as joyful as watching your children take their first step, say their first word, and develop their unique personalities. And as parents, we all share a common dream- to see our children grow and embrace the world with unwavering confidence.

However, the journey of nurturing a child’s potential can sometimes present unexpected challenges.

According to recent statistics by CDC, 1 in 36 children in the United States has been identified with ASD (autism spectrum disorder). Furthermore, 1 in 6 children aged 3-17 years have some form of developmental disability.

While parents can give all the love and support their offsprings need, having support from occupational therapy (OT) can help the children flourish.

This article explores the profound role of occupational therapists in pediatric care. We will also discuss some signs you should consult an OT practitioner and its benefits.

👉Also read: Creating an Autism-Friendly Summer Break: Tips for Parents and Caregivers

What is a Pediatric Occupational Therapist?

A pediatric occupational therapist is a certified healthcare professional specializing in providing therapy and support to children and adolescents with autism, down syndrome, and developmental delays of several degrees.

The therapists work on a range of issues to help the children develop, improve, or regain the skills necessary for everyday activities. These activities or commonly known as “occupations,” could be anything such as dressing, eating, grooming, school-related chores, socializing, playing, and more.

OT therapists provide assistance to people with autism in recovering and overcoming the barriers they experience in day-to-day life. Therapy sessions from a professional therapist in Lawrenceville can make your child independent and confident in life.

What Does a Child Occupational Therapist Do? The Roles Explained

Some parents think that the role of an occupational therapist is limited to conducting therapy sessions, but that is not the case. Occupational therapists work beyond improving the sensory and motor skills and contribute to the overall growth of your child.

Below we have discussed the roles and functions of pediatric care OT practitioners in detail:

  • Evaluation and Assessment

When your child begins therapy, the occupational therapist will conduct a thorough evaluation to gather the necessary information. It could include getting details from you as a parent, as well as through standardized assessments, clinical observations, and sometimes interviews with the teachers or doctors.

This helps the therapist assess various aspects of your child’s development, including fine motor skills, gross motor skills, sensory processing, cognitive abilities, and social-emotional and social-emotional development.

The initial evaluation and assessment help the occupational therapist design a personalized therapy plan based on the strengths and challenges your child is experiencing.

  • Setting Meaningful Goals

Based on the evaluation results and your input as a parent, the therapist will collaboratively set specific and achievable goals for your child’s therapy journey.

These goals are tailored to address the areas where your child is facing difficulties and to help them become more independent and successful in everyday activities.

It is the role of a pediatric occupational therapist to ensure the goals are meaningful and relevant to the individual’s life, motivating them to work towards achieving their objectives.

  • Addressing Sensory Challenges

Sensory processing is a crucial aspect of a child’s development. An article by Down Syndrome Resource Foundation says that some children with autism spectrum disorder may have sensory processing disorders, leading to over- or under-sensitivity to certain things and situations.

Occupational therapists skilled in sensory integration use specific techniques to help your child better manage sensory input, reducing sensitivities and improving their ability to respond appropriately to sensory stimuli.

  • Engaging Therapy Sessions

One of the most important roles of a therapist is to design enjoyable and engaging therapy sessions for children. The professionals can create a fun and playful environment where your child can participate in activities that target their needs.

These activities may include games, puzzles, arts and crafts, movement exercises, and other age-appropriate tasks that help your child flourish while helping them build the necessary skills for daily tasks.

  • Involving You in the Process

Therapists understand the importance of involving parents in therapy sessions, which is also one of their key roles as well. Along with attending to your child, the therapist will also provide you with the training and support to incorporate therapeutic activities into their daily routine at home.

You will receive insights into ways to reinforce the skills learned during therapy to ensure your child is making progress outside of therapy sessions as well.

  • Monitoring Progress

Pediatric occupational therapy is not a one-time event, it is an ongoing process. A therapist’s role is to continually assess your child’s progress to track their development and evaluate the effectiveness of the intervention plan.

Based on the assessments, the pediatric occupational therapists work on any necessary adjustments to the therapy plan to ensure it remains tailored to your child’s evolving needs and goals.

The roles of occupational therapists do not end here, they are deeply rooted in pediatric care. By consulting with an OT practitioner, you can bring a positive change in your child’s life while making it exciting and fun.

Dial 678-648-7644 to inquire more about occupational therapy for children in Georgia.

Signs that Your Child Needs Pediatric Occupational Therapy

Children learn things quickly during the early stages of life, and introducing them to a therapist can help with better results. So, knowing when to see an occupational therapist can make all the difference.

Here are five signs it is time to consult an occupational therapist in Alpharetta, GA.

  1. Your Child Avoids Certain Textures or Surfaces

If your child shows a strong aversion to specific surfaces, such as being overly sensitive to touch, avoiding messy play, or avoiding certain foods due to their texture, it could be a sign of sensory processing difficulties.

The right pediatric occupational therapist can help children gradually desensitize to such stimuli, fostering a more comfortable and inclusive daily life.

  1. Not Using Both Hands When Playing

Difficulty using both hands together in age-appropriate activities like holding a pencil while turning pages can indicate challenges with bilateral coordination. OT practitioners can strengthen these skills, enabling your child to confidently engage in various tasks.

  1. Having Difficulties in Dressing

Children with ASD or autism spectrum disorder often struggle with dressing tasks, such as fastening buttons, tying shoelaces, or zipping up clothes. If your child experiences such problems, it may be because of the inability to develop fine motor skills and visual motor skills.

Occupational therapists can work on your child’s motor skills and abilities to foster independence in dressing and other essential self-care activities.

  1. Experiencing Problems with Self-Calming Methods

Sometimes children may face challenges in regulating their emotions and responses, leading to difficulties in self-calming. If you see your younger one having problems deep breathing or closing eyes for some time, it might be time for OT assistance.

  1. Failing to Have an Eye Contact

Children often have problems making and maintaining eye contact, but if it continues after a certain age, you should consider pediatric occupational therapy.

The reason behind the poor eye contact could be less activity in the dorsal parietal cortex, which occurs due to autism spectrum disorder.

Why Consult Occupational Therapists with Expertise in Pediatric Care

Joining hands with an expert pediatric occupational therapist can help your child with a brighter and better future. Here are some benefits of having treatments with such therapists.

  • Specialized Knowledge and Skills

These occupational therapy practitioners have extensive training and experience in working with children. They possess specialized knowledge of child development and milestones, which enables them to design interventions tailored to each individual’s unique needs, like age and learning capability.

  • Early Intervention and Prevention

Early intervention is one of the roles of occupational therapists in pediatric care. Identifying and addressing developmental delays or difficulties at an early stage can prevent future complications and improve the child’s life in the long run.

  • Improved School Skills

Besides improving motor and sensory skills, pediatric occupational therapy can positively impact children’s school performance. By addressing challenges in handwriting, attention, organization, and other academic skills, therapists can help improve your child’s academic outcomes.

  • Better Social and Emotional Development

According to an abstract by NCBI, a common social deficit in individuals with ASD (autism spectrum disorder) is a lack or partial absence of non-verbal social gestures such as showing, pointing, and giving.

Pediatric occupational therapists can create opportunities for such children to practice social skills, emotional regulation, and interaction with others. It can help your child build a healthy relationship with everyone while gaining social confidence.

  • Enhanced Quality of Life

Ultimately, every parent dreams for their children to have an improved quality of life, and occupational therapy can make it a reality. Therapists can help your child gain the necessary skills and confidence to participate in everyday activities to enjoy a more fulfilling and rewarding life.

👉Also read: Can Children’s Occupational Therapy Help My Child?

Build Your Child’s Future Brighter with Occupational Therapists: Book a Therapy Session Today!

At Therapyland, we are the expert pediatric occupational therapists that can bring a transformative change in your child’s life. Our occupational therapy department has extensive experience working with children with special needs, and we take pride in helping your little one achieve the milestones of his life.

Along with the children, our therapists also cater to the unique needs of parents like you that want to give their future generation a great life full of success and joy.

Ready to take the first step to a happy and prospecting life for your child? Or don’t know what to do after autism diagnosis?

Call us at 678-648-7644 or inquire now to learn more about our accredited occupational therapy program, well-equipped outpatient clinics, and how we can help your child.