Early interventions have benefits galore for young children. When used during the first few years, early intervention can help children with developmental delays or disabilities, according to the national early care organization Zero to Three. From better navigating daily life to acting independently, these programs rely on services provided by professionals who together to help the child reach his fullest potential. Occupational therapy is a key piece of the early intervention puzzle. If your infant or toddler needs occupational therapy (or OT), understanding what the therapist does and how professional help will affect your child is the first step on the road to success.
Evaluation and Assessment
The OT expert will need to start with an evaluation of your child's skill level and developmental abilities. This isn't the same as testing your child. Most likely, the pro will observe your child in action and talk to you about your concerns, hopes, goals and needs. This allows the therapist to create an individualized plan for your child.
The occupational therapist will need to observe and assess how your child deals with every day, age-applicable tasks such as feeding herself or coloring a picture. The therapy helps your child by building these types of skills and providing your family with the necessary accommodations. The main way that the therapist can set the right goals for your child is by watching her as she goes along in her day.
Goals and Objectives
After the therapist gets to know what your child's existing skills are and where she is lacking, it's time to create a plan. The OT expert will create goals based on the observation, along with your input. Creating goals that mesh with your expectations for your child's development is key to the overall intervention plan, notes the American Occupational Therapy Association.
There isn't one set of standard occupation therapy goals for all children. The objectives that the practitioner makes will be specific to your little one's needs. This may include expectations for using utensils, self-care (such as dressing or using the restroom) or even playing with toys.
Fine Motor Skill-Building
Even though there isn't a general goal for all OT situations, building fine motor skills is an over-riding focus. This is evidenced in the way that the therapist works with your child. She'll help your child to manipulate objects with her hands, building fine motor skills such as dexterity and coordination. Doing so provides your child with the chance to practice movements and motions that she'll use every day. This may result in a greater sense of independence for your child.
Occupational therapy from places like Kleiser Therapy works in concert with other therapies such as speech, physical and development therapy to improve your child's quality of life and help her to care for herself. While not every child needs the same type of OT services, boosting fine motor abilities is a constant. The OT practitioner will evaluate your child, talk to you and come up with a plan for success. The end result depends on your child's unique situation, what you put into the therapy and how well the therapist understands what your family needs.