Why AN ot?
Occupational therapists are trained to see the world through a different lens than other professionals. We have a sound foundation in psychological and physical development similar to other clinicians and medical professionals, but we also look more holistically and analytically at the environment and everyday routines of a child or parent. There is no other clinician, who has this unique understanding of both child and environment.
Why is this important?
Let’s take the example of feeding/eating for a child. As a parent, it can be incredibly worrying and frustrating when you want to make sure your child is eating healthily and growing, but something is not going right. A doctor may say that the child is undernourished, but what does this mean? How do these labels help a parent figure out what is going wrong or how to help? Even more, sometimes the doctor will say that your child is fine, but you know that something is wrong or that mealtimes are incredibly stressful for you and your family on a daily basis. Why is eating not a pleasant experience for my baby or child? Why is mealtime such a stressful time everyday? Why will my toddler eat a select few foods but scream with anything else? These questions cannot just be answered with a physical examination, and parents are left floundering. Feeding is just one area, where observing the natural/home environment of a child can be most effective in helping devise effective strategies to deal with problem behaviors. Behavior is a mode of communication for a child, and it is important to see this behavior in the same context where it is occurring to figure out the root of the problem.
TYPICAL vs ATYPICAL DEVELOPMENT
Pediatric occupational therapists also have vast knowledge and experience with typical and atypical development of infants and children. Some of the most frequently asked questions by both new and seasoned parents are “Is something wrong with my child? “Is he/she developing as she/he should be?” “Should my child be crawling?” “Is it a problem that my child does not _______ yet?” and so on. Parents can also be stressed further by not knowing who to go to in order to ask these questions or by comparing with one or two of their friends’ children. If this is you, please visit Red Flags
I can help address these questions directly and help you as a parent understand what your child is or is not doing and whether intervention may be necessary. Often times intervention can be simple at home strategies or positioning ideas that will help address sensory, motor, communication, feeding or other developmental goals. Contact me with questions regarding your child's development.
FINE MOTOR DELAYS
Fine motor delays are on the rise for toddlers, preschool age children and elementary students. Check out this article to read about the effects seen in the classroom As a former first grade teacher and school-based occupational therapist, I have seen first-hand the delays in the classroom. Those of us who grew up in the 80s or before may remember sitting for hours putting on little doll or Barbie shoes, building with legos, stringing beads, and doing other handicrafts with our friends, but the frequency of these experiences for young children has decreased. This means that children have less practice using the small muscles of their hands, manipulating tools and tiny objects and coordinating their two hands together.
As practitioners, we have seen a huge influx of children who are struggling with dressing, using utensils, cutting and writing due to this lack of practice and strengthening opportunities. There are many activities and strategies that can be incorporated into your daily routines with babies and toddlers to help develop their fine motor skills, and there are ways to address deficits seen at the preschool and elementary level that will relieve the frustration your child [and you] may be feeling. I will include many ideas in my blog posts as well as links to good resources. Also, visit Red Flags to gauge your child's fine motor skills.