Childhood is hopeful and joyful and new ever. The playfulness and the joy of childhood create the context for Occupational Therapy with children.
The most common questions People ask me, about Occupational therapy “what do you do exactly to help children?” At any given time, people, walk through centers or visit the websites, they see children swinging in a tire swing or flat swing, tossing bean bags, someone could be running an obstacle course, playing with sand and water, some may be listening to music, some may be doing elephant walks or hanging like a monkey. People blunts out with questions “How is this going to child learn?” or “What could this possibly do to help child write their letters or listen to their teacher?” The sad truth is no child can learn to read and write until they are developmentally ready. Today in this highly competitive world, we intent to push our children to progress at a level they are not yet ready or mentally prepared for and most often end in tears.
My answer to the people is that, the purpose of Occupational therapy is to enhance learning and the development of children in all areas including self-care, play, school and work related activities, which could improve their quality of living.
An Occupational therapist views the child, the child’s environment and the interaction between child and environment in a holistic way.
The child continuously adapts to the environment and is influenced by the environment. The dynamic nature of this interaction is created in part by the child’s development, maturation and learning. OT’s analyze the child’s functional performance within different environments to identify the child’s strength and limitation. Hence the important role an OT is analysis of functional performance of the child to identify the limitations and to work on the specific skills and components.
The primary goal of occupational therapist is to improve the child’s functional performance, through which the performance is analyzed into components of underlying ability and skill.
Occupational Therapy begins by examining the child’s ability in activities of the daily living, through observation, testing, interviewing and the information which is gathered are used to analyze the components of performance, and find out the skills which are delayed, deficient or missing. Thus an OT creates a hypothesis, which performance components appears to interfere with the functional abilities of the child. The solution of the problems or appropriate intervention strategies is developed with the help of various frames of references.
The second goal of OT, is to improve the reciprocal relationship between the child and the environment.
An optimal GOODNESS-OF-FIT, between the child and the environment in which both the child and environment are dynamic and so the GOODNESS – OF – FIT is relative to time and evolves over time. OT’s emphasize development of skill components, functional performance in ADL and performance context to enable the children to achieve desired and expected social roles.