How Occupational Therapy Can Help Your Special Needs Child Start School

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If you have a child with a disability that's ready to enter school, you may want to talk to your pediatrician about getting occupational therapy for your child. In this sense occupational doesn't refer to a job, it means activities your child engages in as part of daily life. The therapy helps your child adapt to school and home routines so your child can participate and learn as fully as possible even with special needs. Here are some things the therapist might do for your child.

Evaluate The Home And School

Some schools provide occupational therapy for students that need it, and you can also have a therapist come to your home, or you can go to a therapy clinic for treatments. An initial evaluation provides a basis for treatment and helps the therapist set goals. The therapist looks at the physical environment that may cause challenges for your child at school. Things like where your child sits in the classroom, school supplies that are used, the lunch routine, and recreational activities are observed keeping in mind how each will affect your child.

The physical organization of your home, your child's routine, and your child's level of independence at home are also taken into account because you may need to change your home environment to help your child be successful in school.

Offer Adaptive Strategies

The strategies for improving your child's abilities to do daily life activities vary according to the type and severity of your child's condition. Strategies might include using ergonomic eating utensils, pencils, and other school supplies that are shaped so your child can grasp them easily. The therapist may recommend establishing a routine at home and at school that helps your child adjust to the new experience of going to school.

Special equipment such as a rolling walker or another mobility device might be recommended, so your child stays active and engaged in the classroom. Major changes may be recommended for your home by bringing in equipment and tools that allow your child to learn independence rather than rely on you to help with daily activities like brushing teeth, preparing snacks, and changing clothes. The goal of occupational therapy is to help your child engage in life through adaptive means if necessary, so your child is as happy, independent, and socially active as possible and as much as they want to be.

Build On Strengths

One reason occupational therapy can be helpful is that it builds on the strengths your child already has. Rather than focusing solely on the disability, the therapist looks at your child's physical and mental strengths and uses those to help your child overcome limitations caused by the disability. As an example, a child without the use of their hands might learn how to do things with their toes and feet that other kids don't usually do. By focusing on the positive, your child has improved self-confidence and learns skills that improve their life into adulthood.

For more information, contact a company like Levi Hospital.