How can occupational therapy benefit children?

Pediatric neuropsychologists may collaborate with occupational therapists if they feel a child would benefit from these services. If appropriate for a child, there are many benefits of occupational therapy, including increased independence in tasks and participation in daily activities.

More specific benefits of occupational therapy include:

  • Sensory regulation: If children experience challenges with sensory processing (i.e., sensory hypersensitivity, sensory hyposensitivity), occupational therapy can help children develop regulatory strategies to improve their ability to manage sensory input in their environment. If children have sensory processing difficulties, they may become dysregulated, making it difficult to participate in daily activities.
  • Improve participation in activities of daily living: A child receiving occupational therapy services has the opportunity to learn activities of daily living that will allow them to successfully participate in their daily routine. The ability to complete basic tasks is the foundation for gaining independence.
  • Gain independence: A child receiving occupational therapy has the opportunity to gain independence by strengthening the development of fine motor skills, gross motor skills, sensory processing skills, cognition, communication, and play skills. A child can also learn to combine skills to improve their hand-eye coordination and positively affect their performance in school and play.
  • Develop relationships: Occupational therapy positively affects the development of interpersonal relationships by improving social skills and attention. Children are more likely to connect with others if they are able to have meaningful and attentive conversations with their peers and family.
  • Discover helpful equipment or tools for success: Occupational therapy services connect children with specialized equipment that helps them live productive lives, such as sensory swings, cushions to promote posture and attention, and more. An occupational therapist works with the child to help them learn how to use their equipment to maximize their participation in daily activities.

Where does occupational therapy occur?

A child can receive occupational therapy in school, at home through a private practice, in a clinic, in an outpatient facility, in a hospital, and through community outreach programs. Some children may also receive occupational therapy in the home setting to encourage parent participation and skill development in the natural environment. 

Who receives occupational therapy?

Occupational therapy can benefit children who present with: 

  • Birth injuries
  • Birth defects
  • Sensory processing disorders
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Academic challenges
  • Learning difficulties
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Pervasive developmental disorders
  • Behavioral problems
  • Developmental delays
  • Post-surgical hand conditions
  • Spina bifida
  • Parálisis cerebral
  • Chronic illnesses

Pediatric occupational therapy is unique because it helps children to develop the skills they need to become and remain independent. Occupational therapy focuses on function and works to improve a child’s ability to perform tasks or adapt the environment to the child. Occupational therapy helps children live their life to the fullest potential. 

If you would like to learn more about pediatric occupational therapy or diagnostic evaluations, contact the Goldman Center of Chicago to learn more about services we offer.