occupational therapist

Occupational Therapy Can Help Your Child With Transitions

Staff Report, FOCUS Therapy

Change is a part of life. From a strict dictionary definition, a transition is a passage from one state, subject or place to another. For children with delays or special needs, transitions can be difficult, whether it’s from one activity to another, one functional level to another or one environment to another.

Occupational therapy helps prepare children for changes in their roles and routines. In fact, one of the key goals of our Fort Myers occupational therapists is to help support transition for families and children – with or without disabilities – so that children can grow and learn to be as independent as possible.

A primary objective in occupational therapy is to help children in participate and function in daily routines. When a child can successfully transition from one task to another or one stage in life to another, overall long-term outcomes are better.

Part of where it gets tricky is anticipating which transitions are likely to be the most challenging, and developing an effective strategy to prepare. We draw on many years of knowledge and experience. The exact occupational therapy approach must be based on the individual child’s strengths, needs, interests and preferences. Practitioners of occupational therapy are experts in task and work analysis, sensory processing, behavior and skills of independent living. Through careful assessment of the child’s abilities and goals, and often with collaboration with speech therapists and physical therapists, our FOCUS occupational therapists share responsibility in helping each child cope with transitions, big and small.

A good example of how occupational therapy can help young children is during the transitions between early intervention to preschool and preschool to kindergarten. The American Occupational Therapy Association outlines some of the following ways occupational therapists provide key support during these transitions. Those include:

  • Preparing both the child and the family for changes in routines and roles;
  • Supporting skills of self determination that will help with successful school integration;
  • Helping enhance/ improve social skill development that will be useful in a school environment;
  • Assist with issues of mobility, in particular helping recommend adaptations, equipment and accommodations;
  • Help the child work on functional living and academic skills they will need to participate in school.

Successful preschool and kindergarten experiences are so important to a child’s long-term success, helping them to develop a healthy balance between “work” and play. When we can make that transition go more smoothly, it empowers the child with confidence and gives them the tools needed to succeed at the next level.

While there are many great occupational therapy programs within our local schools, many children often need more than the school occupational therapy programs can offer. One study published in the Journal of Occupational Therapy analyzed a random sample of 500 pediatric occupational therapists who worked within school districts. Of those who responded, 40 percent said they could not fully participate in the process of helping to transition special needs children from early intervention to preschool and from preschool to kindergarten. The reason? Most commonly, it was “not enough time.”

That’s why it’s so important to seek outside private therapy services, which are usually covered by your insurance plan. Occupational therapy is an effective way to help prepare your child for difficult transitions, with the ultimate goal of helping them live life to the fullest.

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

Additional Resources:

Transitions for Children and Youth: How Occupational Therapy Can Help, American Occupational Therapy Association

More Blog Entries:

Occupational Therapy Can Help Victims of Childhood Trauma, March 23, 2017, FOCUS Fort Myers Occupational Therapy Blog

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