Our Fort Myers occupational therapists often refer to play as the occupation of children. It may look on the surface as if all we do at our clinic is have fun. (And we DO have TONS of fun here!) But what we’re really doing is bolstering child development through play, which has proven to be the most effective way to teach children critical life skills in early intervention.
“There’s a reason our pediatric therapists never approach a session with a child saying, ‘Ok, let’s go do some therapy,'” explained FOCUS Therapy Owner/Founder Jennifer Voltz-Ronco. “No, we say, ‘Let’s go play!’ Because we know that creating a fun, safe, upbeat environment is going to make them want to participate, want to take the next step, want to learn the new skill. Ultimately, that’s where we make the most gains. Those are the lessons that are going to stick.”
Here, we offer some basics on how child development is promoted by simple activities that involve play.
FOCUS offers pediatric speech therapy in Fort Myers and throughout Southwest Florida. Call (239) 313.5049 or Contact Us online.
Play in Early Childhood: The Role of Play in Any Setting, Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University
More Blog Entries:
FOCUS Therapy Hires Therapists Who Genuinely Care, March 3, 2022, FOCUS Therapy Fort Myers Blog
Learning to get dressed is an essential function of independence. But none of us is born learning to tie, button, or zip. For kids with developmental delays and disabilities, these skills can take longer. Our FOCUS Fort Myers occupational therapy team can help.
Developmental Progression of Buttoning and Zipping
Every child develops at a different pace, so there are no hard-and-fast rules for when a child should be able to master buttoning and zipping. That said, some general milestone guidelines are:
- Can unzip zippers with large tabs.
- Can pull a large zipper tab up if an adult holds the bottom of it tight.
- Can unbutton large buttons (1 inch or more).
- Can button 3 large buttons, though they may not do so in the right order.
- Can unzip and unsnap clothing while wearing it.
- Is able to close the front snap on clothing.
- Can button and unbutton while wearing front-opening clothing.
- Opens all the fasteners on any piece of clothing.
- Can hook and zip up on their own.
5 to 6 years:
- Can hook and zip up on their own while wearing the clothing.
In occupational therapy, we tend to see our mission as helping children succeed. However, we also recognize that it’s equally important to teach kids how to fail.
That may seem strange, but the reality is failure is an inevitable outcome for everyone at some point or another. The size of the failure may vary, but knowing how to better tolerate will reduce meltdowns, anxiety and social difficulties (which can exacerbate the initial problem). Perhaps even more importantly, kids who know it’s Ok to fail sometimes are less likely to give up – and more likely to try new things! Ultimately, knowing how to self-regulate and cope with failure sets your child up for success in the long-term.
This point was underscored several times by NBA great Michael Jordan, who throughout his career spoke about the importance of losing. Resilience and perseverance in the face of challenges are a huge part of what has much him a winner, he’s said.
“If you’re trying to achieve, there will be roadblocks. I’ve had them; everybody has had them. But obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.”
Helping kids figure out ways to climb it, go through it and work around it are a huge part of what our FOCUS occupational therapy team does every day. Self-regulation is a big piece of that puzzle, particularly with children who are diagnosed with delays, disabilities and other challenges.
When you imagine the fastest-growing career, your mind probably zips to something like computer programming or industry giants like Uber and Amazon. Few pay much mind to the health care field, but the reality is it is one of the most rapidly expanding market sectors. What’s more, a sizable part of that growth involves occupational therapists.
Glassdoor just ranked the job of occupational therapist as the No. 4 most desirable of 2018 among the top 50. Additionally, U.S. News & World report ranked the job of occupational therapists as No. 9 in Best Health Care Jobs and No. 11 in the Best 100 Jobs.
Our FOCUS Fort Myers occupational therapists aren’t surprised in the least. First, a growing number of physicians, patients and families are recognizing how extremely effective and profoundly positive it can be – whether an aging stroke patient, a car accident victim or a toddler with autism. Pediatric occupational therapy especially is renowned to be a highly-rewarding field. Florida occupational therapy careers are taking off, with therapists in high demand and garnering well-deserved credit for remarkable progress with patients of all challenges.
Every parent of a toddler at some point has lamented their eating habits – with a common refrain being, “She’s soooo picky!” But how do you know whether this is “just a phase” or if you should seek feeding therapy?
Our FOCUS occupational therapists in Fort Myers can start out by saying, first and foremost, we know how quickly dinner tables can devolve into battlegrounds. Parents may beg, demand, reward, short-order-cook – and it can be physically and emotionally exhausting. The worst part of it is that without strategy, you may pour all this effort in and see no real returns.
So we start by telling parents firstly to stop and look at this – for just a moment – from your child’s perspective. Eating is actually a pretty complicated thing to a fairly new human. You have to use all of your sensory systems. You have to exercise and coordinate so many complex facial and hand muscles. Put something in front of them that’s completely unfamiliar (and maybe a little scary-looking?) and it’s easy to see why a child can get completely overwhelmed.
Here is the good news: It’s not YOUR job to MAKE your child eat. Nope, it’s really not. What we advise to parents of children who take feeding therapy is to think of their role as providing their child with both the opportunity and the skills they need to CHOOSE to eat new foods.
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.
By Krystle Hofstetter, MScOTR/L, Occupational Therapist at FOCUS
Almost all of us have one, yet we try our best to pretend they don’t exist. They vary in size, shape, color and even texture. Some are new, while others we’ve had as long as we can remember. Some are painful, even years after they formed.
We’re talking about scars.
What all scars have in common is that each has related scar tissue that compromises the balance and function of surrounding tissue. In some cases, it can even be detrimental to other areas of our bodies. Scar tissue does not remain just at the scar site. Rather, it continues to grow like a vine throughout our bodies over the years, causing or contributing to problems down the road.
Children especially may have trouble with scars because their bodies are still growing. Adults may experience chronic pain, tightness and unease if scars aren’t treated properly.
As a Fort Myers occupational therapist, I recognize that untreated scars may hinder development and wound recovery in several surprising ways. The good news there is a method to help address these issues. It’s called Scar Release Treatment, and it produces little to no pain and could have long-lasting benefits for you and/ or your child.