Akron occupational therapists teach kids daily living skills

Daily Living Skills: How Akron Occupational Therapists Help Kids Work Toward Independence

Often, the work of the dedicated Akron occupational therapists in pediatrics can look like “play.” And it is – because that’s how kids learn best. But what we’re ultimately teaching them are daily living skills that are ultimately going to open the door to the greatest possible independence and personal success.

For example: We’re working on a fun craft project that involves coloring or cutting or following directions. They’re having fun – but they’re gaining important fine motor skills and executive functioning skills that are going to pivotal in future everyday tasks, in the classroom and beyond.

Occupational therapy is a broad discipline, and the focus can run the gamut – from social skills to teeth brushing to emotional regulation.

In the OT world, when we refer to daily living skills or activities of daily living or “occupations,” we’re talking about a person’s daily self-care activities. In health care, a person’s ability or inability to perform these activities are used as a measure of their functional status. Kids, obviously, aren’t expected to be at the same level of adults, but we do look at what is developmentally appropriate for peers their same age.

Examples of daily living skills:

  • Feeding/Eating
  • Dressing
  • Bathing
  • Walking
  • Personal hygiene
  • Toileting
  • Mobility/physical exercise
  • Communicating
  • Making friends
  • Getting dressed
  • Reading and writing
  • Following directions
  • Adhering to a schedule

Not every child is going to have the same goals. Our Akron occupational therapists start with a comprehensive assessment that helps us evaluate the child’s strengths, challenges, and specific needs. Based on that evaluation, we’ll create a personalized intervention plan that outlines the goals and strategies tailored to the child’s developmental level and abilities.

Focus Areas for Akron Occupational Therapists

There are OTs who work with people of all different ages and abilities. At Therapy & Wellness Connection in Brecksville, we work primarily with children and teens with developmental disabilities and delays.

Common areas of focus for our sessions include:

  • Fine motor skills. These involve the use of small muscles in the hands and fingers. We help kids improve their dexterity, hand-eye coordination, and precision – all of which are essential for tasks like handwriting, zipping, tying shoes, buttoning clothing, and using utensils. We may start with games that involve practicing those muscles, and then work our way up to the skills we ultimately want them to learn.
  • Gross motor skills. These are the larger muscle groups that involve big muscle movements, like standing, sitting, walking, running, and balance. We play games and do exercises that help kids build and increase strength, balance, and coordination – so that kids can more effectively navigate their environment when tackling activities of daily living.
  • Sensory processing. Many children who have developmental delays have sensory processing issues. That means they may underreact or overreact to sensory stimuli. As Akron occupational therapists, our goal is to use sensory integration therapy techniques to help kids respond appropriately to sensory input so they can participate in daily activities.
  • Self care skills. These are often a central focus for our OTs. These involve performing tasks like grooming, dressing, toileting, feeding, etc. Lots of kids take their time learning these skills, but we can help make the lessons more effective for kids with delays and disabilities by breaking each task into smaller, more manageable steps. Then we give kids strategies and practice to master each step.

A big part of our success hinges on parent education and active involvement. We can teach parents the strategies we’re using in our OT sessions. If parents and caregivers then commit to carrying over those methods in other environments, the child is going to catch on much faster.

The faster kids acquire these skills, the faster we can proceed to more complicated tasks that will bring them that much closer to catching up to their peers and/or reaching their full potential for personal independence and success.

For more information about pediatric occupational therapy in Brecksville, Contact Us Online or call our office (330) 748-4807. Our educational services and multidisciplinary therapy are available in Brecksville, Broadview Heights, Cleveland, Akron and surrounding communities.

Additional Resources:

Activities of Daily Living (Occupations), 2014, AOTA

More Blog Entries:

Outside OT: Why Our Brecksville Occupational Therapists Love Outdoor Sessions for Kids, April 12, 2024, Akron Occupational Therapy Blog