Occupational therapy is an important part of child development and can have a significant impact on a child's growth, health and well-being. Sometimes referred to as OT, occupational therapy is a form of healthcare that helps individuals to improve their ability to perform activities related to everyday life. This includes activities such as self-care, physical play and learning or work-related tasks. Occupational therapists use evidence-based interventions to help individuals develop better motor skills, improve coordination and modify behaviour.
The role of OT in child development goes above just helping kids with basic activities like dressing or eating. OT practitioners tailor activities to each individual’s specific needs and can also support with sensory integration (such as sensitivity to sound or touch), visual perception (recognising shapes, colours etc) and handwriting difficulties.
Some signs your child could need occupational therapy
If your child is having difficulty reaching developmental milestones or you think they could benefit from some extra help acquiring certain skills or overcoming behavioural issues, then it may be time to look into getting them assessed by an occupational therapist. Here are some signs your child might need OT:
- Delays in developmental milestones
- Difficulty with fine or gross motor skills
- Sensory processing difficulties
- Poor handwriting or difficulty with other school-related tasks
- Trouble with self-care activities such as feeding themselves
- Behavioural issues related to sensory or motor difficulties
How occupational therapy can help your child
Occupational therapists may use a range of techniques when working with children including guidance on how parents can help their child at home; play based approaches; planning classroom modifications; aiding social interaction; recommending assistive technology; providing neurological re-education techniques; setting up daily routine plans and implementing relaxation techniques. OT strives to maximise children’s potential so they can function optimally in school settings while enjoying leisure time with friends and family. The aim is for your child’s wellbeing through helping them develop positive life habits that will stay with them throughout life.
How to access occupational therapy services in Australia
If you believe that your child may need occupational therapy services, the first step is speaking with your GP who will assess the situation and make recommendations from there. Depending on the severity of your child's needs, both public (government-funded) occupational therapists and private ones (who take both private health insurance payments as well as Medicare rebates) are available for sessions. These will require referral from a GP in most cases.
The importance of early intervention.
It is important for parents to pay close attention to their children's development so early intervention can occur if needed such possible assistance from an OT practitioner being sought after if any delays are noticed in meeting normal developmental milestones. An OT practitioner can assist by providing intervention that has been proven time and time again to help improve health outcomes, literacy levels, emotional wellbeing, social engagement and academic performance, all leading to a healthier lifestyle and better future development for children.
Browse our range of educational and therapeutic resources
All our products were chosen with the assistance of a team of educators, speech pathologists, psychologists, and occupational therapists. We’re proud of our huge range of fun toys and educational resources, including activity books, flip books and flashcards, and much more. If you have any questions or comments about any of our products, don’t hesitate to contact us on 1300 FUNSTUFF (1300 386 788). You can also use our handy contact form to send us a message, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.