Occupational therapy (OT) is a holistic treatment that targets physical, cognitive, behavioral or sensory challenges with the goal of helping people attain the highest possible degree of function and independence. The pediatric occupational therapists at Therapy and Wellness Connection help young adults and children with disabilities more effectively engage in their communities. Services are offered at our Brecksville occupational therapy center, as well as in homes, schools, day cares and workplaces throughout the Cleveland-metro area.
Occupational therapy is a broad discipline encompassing everything from hygiene to handwriting. Many don’t think of children as having “occupations,” but they do! The “job” of a child includes learning and mastering skills like:
- Self-care and hygiene (eating healthy, bathing, dressing, toileting, etc.)
- Socializing/making connections
- Setting and respecting boundaries
- Focusing their attentions/staying on task
- Excelling in school
- Exploring new environments
- Self-regulating emotions and controlling undesirable behaviors
- Transitioning with ease from one activity or environment to the next
- Staying safe
As Northeast Ohio occupational therapists, our goal is to address functional deficits that impede one’s ability to go about and complete every-day tasks and social interactions. Inch-by-inch, we help close the skill gaps between patients and peers. Along the way, occupational therapy instills-confidence and removes the roadblocks that stand in the way of a child’s right to pursue life without limitations.
What Will Be My Child’s Occupational Therapy Goals?
Occupational therapy goals and timelines are unique to the individual. General focus is on helping children and young adults with disabilities attain, retain and improve function and independence through games, exercises, activities, outings and accommodations.
Most OT clients at Therapy and Wellness Connection receive habilitative treatment, meaning they have missed or delayed developmental milestones and are working to catch up to their peers. A few receive rehabilitative treatment, meaning they may have suffered injury or illness resulting in functional loss that occupational therapy can help them regain.
Some examples of targeted OT goals for children:
- Self-care or daily living activities. This could include things like brushing their teeth, getting their clothes on and off, using a cup and eating with utensils.
- Fine motor skills. These could be tasks like learning to use scissors or properly grasp and manipulate a pencil to improve handwriting skills (we use the Handwriting Without Tears method). We might use tweezers to pick up small objects or play games like Operation.
- Gross motor skills. This would involve activities like throwing and catching a ball, improving balance and building the core strength necessary for walk, running or sitting.
- Hand-eye coordination. This is a necessary skill needed to manipulate puzzles, games and toy. As children get older, they’ll need it to write on a chalkboard, take notes, play sports, type, cook, drive a car and do certain jobs.
- Organization and planning. This could be independent mastery of tasks necessary to prepare themselves for a school day or organizing schoolwork. It may start early on with “visual schedules” that help children “see” the steps necessary to complete a task.
- Ease of transitions. For some kids, moving fluidly from one activity or place to the next can cause discomfort and anxiety – or even trigger a full-blown melt-down. Visual schedules help with transitions, as does “first-then” language and alerting child several times in advance of an impending change.
- Appropriate sensory response. Some kids are sensory-seeking while others are sensory averse. The sensory input they seek or avoid can vary a great deal, so the occupational therapists needs to think outside-the-box, creating ways of helping children get the sensory input they need or recognize/cope when they’ve had too much. Children with sensory processing difficulty may have a tough time focusing, so a therapist might for example start a session with trampoline jumping or yoga before attempting to tackle homework. A therapist might also help expand the scope of tolerable sensory input for those sensory averse by exposing them little-by-little to more intense stimuli, such as ball pits or sensory boxes, or finding ways to reasonable accommodations to reduce stimuli, helping them better focus. Sensory diets can be designed to address extremely selective eaters, helping them slowly expand their palate and ensure they’re getting proper nutrition.
Each child’s plan-of-care is designed for their own unique goals and pace, encouraging growth while keeping targets within reach. These plans are updated every few months to allow parents easy tracking of the progress your child is making.
The best part? OTs make it fun!
Most of the time, kids don’t’ even realize they’re working. We have yet to hear a pediatric occupational therapy patient march into the clinic and say, “Ok, I’m here for some therapy work!” What we hear is, “Let’s go play!”
Early Intervention Occupational Therapy in Ohio
The American Occupational Therapy Association reports early intervention occupational therapy and other support services are associated with the best long-term outcomes for children with disabilities or who are delayed/at-risk when they begin before age 3.
Children with specified conditions like Down syndrome or autism spectrum disorder may qualify for early intervention occupational therapy just on that basis. A diagnosis isn’t always necessary to obtain early intervention services, though. Sometimes a few missed milestones will be enough for a child to qualify in those formative years.
States are also federally required to provide an array of early intervention services per the Individuals with Disabilities and Education Act (IDEA). This may include some degree of state-funded OT. Private occupational therapy services from Therapy and Wellness Connection can further improve generalization of skills. Plus, our services can continue long past the state early-intervention cut-off at age of 3. By then, your child will have established trusting relationships with our team members, making the transition away from early intervention and possibly into the school district via an IEP that much smoother.
Occupational Therapy Patients We’re Privileged to Treat
Some conditions common among the patients our Cleveland occupational therapists treat include:
- Attention deficits/ ADHD
- Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
- Down syndrome
- Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
- Developmental delays
- Birth injuries/birth defects
- Traumatic injuries
- Cerebral Palsy
- Genetic disorders
- Broken bones/ orthopedic issues
- Coordination difficulties
- Dysphagia/feeding problems
- Swallowing problems
- G-tube transitions
- Hand injuries
- Infant stimulation/massage
- Juvenile Rheumatoid arthritis
- Learning problems
- Sensory integration and processing
- Social skills
- Spatial awareness
- Wheelchair positioning and mobility
- Multiple sclerosis
- Muscular dystrophy
In addition to one-on-one pediatric occupational therapy services, we also offer an Occupational Therapy Group (“OT Group” for short) every Sunday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at our Brecksville clinic. Participants work on zones of regulation, cooking, socialization and vocational skills. We also play games, use sensory tools and enjoy regular community outings. Information on this program can be obtained by e-mailing ThriveCenterTWC@gmail.com.
If you are interested in pediatric occupational therapy services in Cleveland, Akron or surrounding suburbs, our helpful office staff can help answer your questions and arrange an appointment. Feel free to test us out through the OT Group too!