Fort Myers occupational therapy

Fort Myers Occupational Therapy Helps Kids Acquire Life Skills

When parents first learn their child has been referred to Fort Myers occupational therapy raise an eyebrow. After all, what “occupation” does a child have?

The answer is: Many!

But we have to look beyond the traditional definition of “occupation,” which is generally understood to mean a career, vocation, or job. Within the field of occupational therapy, “occupation” is understood to be life activities. These are the tasks involved in doing everything from bathing and dressing to learning and managing complex tasks.

None of us just magically become independent, successful adults. We had to learn it, starting with the very basics of moving, communicating, and taking care of our basic needs. Human children are born with an intrinsic motivation and ability to engage in learning, control, and mastery. Some kids need more 1:1 help than others to catch up to where they need to be developmentally. That’s where our Fort Myers occupational therapy team can intervene.

Certain challenges can make childhood occupations incredibly difficult. Let’s take sensory processing disorder, for instance. A child with sensory processing will have difficulty functioning and engaging easily across a broad range of settings. They will have difficulty:

  • Participating in play with peers due to poor impulse control, which sometimes can come off as aggressive.
  • Sitting still for extended periods of time, which creates issues in a school environment. They need movement to achieve an organized physical and mental state.
  • Eating a variety of healthy foods, due to trouble with different tastes and textures.

All of this can impact a child’s engagement in day-to-activities, such as learning, connecting, and growing.

As Fort Myers occupational therapists, we aim to help kids build adaptive responses to everyday changing environments by integrating these important skills in play-based therapies. They are structured, but also fun, spontaneous, child-led, constructive/exploratory, encourage active involvement, and are focused on the learning process.

This strategic approach helps our therapists form a tight bond AND keeps kids engaged – ultimately creating new neural pathways so the lessons we’re teaching “stick.”

Some of the play-based therapy strategies we use in pediatric occupational therapy may include:

  • Modifying the environment or certain tools so that kids can get just the right amount of sensory input during an activity so that they can complete the task without being overwhelmed.
  • Recommending activities that parents and caregivers can engage in with the child throughout the day to help work on a certain skillset while still having fun. For example, we might encourage a game like Simon Says to work on skills like executive functioning, bilateral coordination, and emotional regulation.
  • Creating opportunities during sessions to allow for practice of social skills like turn-taking and neurological skills like problem-solving.

Activities don’t need to be complex or involve expensive toys to be effective. The key to success in pediatric occupational therapy is ensuring the child is interested and engaged. The fact that our Fort Myers occupational therapists love what we do makes a huge difference too!

FOCUS offers pediatric occupational therapy in Fort Myers and throughout Southwest Florida. Call (239) 313.5049 or Contact Us online.

Additional Resources:

A Child’s “Occupation” is Play – A Brecksville Occupational Therapy Perspective, Therapy and Wellness Connection

More Blog Entries:

Fort Myers OT Explains In-Clinic vs. School-Based, Jan. 5, 2024, Southwest Florida Occupational Therapy Blog

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