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How Can I Prepare My Child For Occupational Therapy?

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You’re looking forward to what occupational therapy can help your child accomplish, but you’re concerned about his reaction to yet another trip to a new place where he’ll be interacting with adults he doesn’t know. How should you prepare your child for an occupational therapy evaluation and subsequent appointments?  


The trained and licensed occupational therapists and speech therapist at Little Wonders Pediatric Therapy in Charlotte, North Carolina, put your mind at ease when you walk through the door.  


Your therapist explains the purpose and goals of occupational therapy, which helps you as a parent take a positive approach to the treatment when talking with your child about it. Occupational therapy (OT) is designed to help your child build the skills he needs to accomplish everyday tasks with more ease. For instance, if it’s really hard for him to hold a spoon or a fork, he’d just as soon pick up food with his fingers. But do you want him to do that all of his life? Of course not. Improving motor skills now will enable him to eat with utensils much more easily. 


If your child can’t hold a pencil well in kindergarten and elementary school, life is difficult. Occupational therapy helps him improve his fine motor skills so that he can grasp a pencil more comfortably in order to write. When that’s not possible, your therapist arranges for assistive technology to help your child complete his school tasks. 


You’ll complete several forms before your child’s evaluation. The forms ask what your child likes to do and is good at as well as what he struggles with. Once the evaluation takes place, the therapist will develop an individualized plan to help your child improve his ability to do everyday tasks as well as tasks needed to succeed in school. It may call for modifying the school or home environment to ensure as much independence as possible. 


What to tell your child in advance

Occupational therapy for children isn’t another doctor’s appointment at which he’s poked and prodded and asked to do things he thinks are silly or hard. It usually resembles play time. 


Tell your child he’s going to get to do some fun things like scooping sand into a bucket, swinging in a big swing hanging from the ceiling, or seeing how fast he can crunch a piece of paper in his hand. You can talk to the therapist in advance to ask what some of the activities will be during the OT evaluation, so that you can explain a few of the fun things he’ll be doing during his visit. 


Your OT therapist may advise you that it’s best if she works with your child alone. She may have a window from which your child can see you if he has trouble separating and wants to be with you. You may find that the activities your child is engaging in quickly dissipate his reluctance to leave you. However, the therapists ultimately have your child’s best interest in mind, and will adapt the environment or structure of the evaluation as needed to maximize your child’s ability to perform their best. 

How to dress your child 

Pediatric OT involves movement. Dress your child in loose, comfortable clothes. A t-shirt, sweatpants, and rubber-soled shoes are appropriate. Be sure your child is wearing comfortable socks, as he’ll likely take off his shoes for part of the session. 


Your child may use paints or shaving cream. Have him wear clothes that can get stained, or are washable. We are always sure to provide washable materials for our patients. 


If your child has sensory integration disorder, you already know to take off the offending tags from the back of a shirt or pants and avoid scratchy material.

Some treatment modalities

Your child’s session involves many types of physical movement, from therapy balls to swings to eye-hand coordination games and other activities. The therapist assesses your child’s sensory processing skills, fine and gross motor skills, visual perceptual skills, visual processing skills, interaction skills, oral motor skills, and more.

Call Little Wonders Pediatric Therapy for more information and to set an appointment for a comprehensive occupational therapy evaluation for your child.

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