Pediatric Occupational Therapy helps facilitate increased independence and participation in daily activities by addressing delays in fine motor skills, handwriting, visual motor integration, oral motor/feeding, sensory processing, self-help skills, seating and positioning, and overall development. Our Occupational Therapists work closely with families and other professionals to assist with improving skills in the clinic setting as well as in the home, school, and community.
Changes in development occur most rapidly during the first 2-3 years of life, through a variety of interaction, play, and positioning/mobility. Each milestone has its own age range for what’s considered “typical” development. However, if a child is demonstrating delayed achievement of milestones or is not meeting significant milestones, the earlier the intervention is started, the sooner the child can begin to refine the skills needed for later development. For more information on fine motor milestones by age, please click on the Developmental Milestones link.
Fine Motor Skills
Fine motor skills require use of the small muscles in our fingers, hands, and forearms to manipulate objects and tools, and to participate in activities of daily living. These activities include pinching, holding a utensil, writing/coloring, cutting with scissors, and fastening snaps/buttons/zippers.
Sensory integration, or sensory processing, is the way in which our body takes in information from the senses (e.g. temperature, touch, movement, etc.) and then make sense of the information (e.g., “I’m cold,” “Someone is sitting too close and touching me,” “I’m dizzy,” etc.) in order to respond with an appropriate motor or behavior action (e.g., put on a sweater, move over to give peer more space/ask peer to move, stop spinning, etc.). Occasionally, these sensory signals from the nervous system do not get organized into appropriate responses, which may result in difficulties with motor movements (clumsiness), behavioral problems, anxiety, attention issues, or other challenges.
Self-cares are activities of daily living, including getting dressed, brushing teeth, taking a shower/washing one’s self, bathroom management/hygiene, and self-feeding.
Play is an important part of a young child’s day to day life. Occupational Therapists will often use play as a therapy tool, both individually and in a group setting. Our social play groups help to address a variety of play skills, including activity tolerance (the ability to sit and attend to a task for an appropriate amount of time), sharing, turn-taking, and following directions. Click on the Social Groups link for more information.
Feeding difficulties and food refusal may be due to a variety of issues, including sensory sensitivities or aversions, decreased oral motor skills, core weakness, etc. There are over 30 steps involved in eating, including tolerating the sight of food, interacting with food (without directly touching it), smelling the food, touching, tasting, and finally the consumption of foods. In addition to working on increasing a child’s tolerance for trying new foods, feeding therapy may include strengthening/postural work, assessing environmental factors, sensory and/or motor interventions, behavioral/learning approaches, use of a home program, and consultation with other medical professionals including a dietician, pediatrician, etc.
Autism Spectrum Disorders
Sensory Processing Disorder
Feeding and Oral Motor Disorders
Common Treatment Approaches:
Interactive Metronome (IM)
Integrated Listening Systems (iLs)
Sequential Oral Sensory (SOS) Feeding Approach
Astronaut Training Program
Handwriting Without Tears
Beckman Oral Motor Therapy
Seating & Positioning
Our Occupational Therapists specialize in body mechanics, positioning, safety, and advocating for independent access to a child’s environment. Our therapists work with local vendors to help families find the right equipment for their child, including wheelchairs and other seating devices, cushions, trays and other seating accessories, bath chairs, etc.