occupational therapy Fort Myers

How Fort Myers Occupational Therapy Helps Kids

Occupational therapy is a broad discipline. Some parents are confused when they’re referred to “OT” by their child’s pediatrician. After all, the first thing that comes to mind when we think “occupation” is “job.” And kids don’t have jobs… Right?

In fact, children are tasked with a dizzying number of important jobs, spanning far beyond just learning to talk and walk (which in themselves can be pretty daunting milestones, especially for children with certain delays, disorders, and different abilities).

Occupational therapists – particularly those who work in pediatrics (with kids) – are responsible to:

  • Identify the developmental/functional deficits with which a child struggles.
  • Develop an evidence-based plan of care that specifically outlines the goals for each individual child on a personalized timeline.
  • Use each OT session to creatively to help kids “play their way” to achieving those goals.

A pediatric OT session may look a lot like goofing off (another reason the field – and its necessity – are met with confusion). But the play-based approach is deliberate. You know the saying, “Time flies when you’re having fun”? Play is what keeps kids engaged and interested, motivated and willing to push themselves just a bit harder every time. The most effective occupational therapy sessions are those that don’t feel like work at all for the child. This is rooted in mountains of evidence showing that it works.

Some of what we work in OT includes helping children with:

  • Gross motor skills, such as sitting up, crawling, standing, balance, posture, walking, running, and jumping.
  • Self-care, including feeding, dressing, toileting, and basic hygiene.
  • Self-regulation and calming, especially during transitions or while engaged in non-preferred activities.
  • Social-emotional communication and engagement.
  • Fine motor skills (handwriting, buttoning, tying, zipping, etc.).
  • Executive functioning (paying attention/focusing, understanding/following sequences and directions, etc.)
  • Sensory integration and processing.

This isn’t even a complete list.

What’s more, occupational therapy can sometimes goes beyond the walls of our clinic. Not only do we offer occupational therapy online to kids anywhere in Florida, but we can sometimes adapt outside environments to meet a child’s unique needs. For example, our FOCUS Therapy OT Krystle Lopez has helped to design/build custom desks, RV travel accommodations, and more for OT patients with various disabilities and delays.

OT is not a quick fix. As for how long it’s needed, it truly depends on the unique difficulties and strengths of the child, as well as their tailor-made goals. We do believe firmly that a diagnosis does not define a child. It can open the door to services and can provide a road map for effective treatment strategies. Ultimately though, it’s the child who decides how far to go. Our job as Southwest Florida occupational therapists is to provide every tool available to help them reach their full potential.

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

Additional Resources:

Learning Through Play, American Occupational Therapy Association

More Blog Entries:

Understanding Pediatric Occupational Therapy, Dec. 4, 2021, Fort Myers Kids Occupational Therapy Blog

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