Pediatric occupational therapy practitioners play an important role in early intervention. They promote the engagement and function of toddlers and infants and their families in day-to-day routines by recognizing and working in areas of occupation which include daily living activities, play, rest and sleep, social participation, and education. The way a family can care for their child and encourage their participation and development in natural environments where both the family and child play, live, and work is enhanced by these practitioners.
Basic Principles of Intervention for Children with Sensory Processing Conditions
When children are offered the ‘just-right’ sensory motor and input demands that are based off their own unique needs, they typically will respond at their optimum level. When they are successful in an activity, it helps to motivate them and organize their behavior to participate more in day-to-day activities.
Sensory motor activities that are child-initiated and play-based are therapeutic. Activities that control the intensity, type, and duration of sensory input carefully will either calm the over-responsive child or alert the under-responsive child. This allows them to participate more fully in self-help tasks and play that is more developmentally appropriate.
Roles of Pediatric Occupational Therapy
Some of the most important roles that a pediatric occupational therapist plays include:
- Determine the child’s sensory demands for social and physical environments.
- Determine how the response of the child to sensory demands influences participation in fine motor, gross motor, play and self-help activities.
- Assist the child in functioning at optimal level by providing modifications to their everyday routines, activities and environments.
- Engage the child in sensory-rich, fun, interactive and play-based activities to expedite the organization, integration and registration of sensory input to promote optimal behavioral and motor responses.
- Assisting parents in understanding the behavior of their child and offer ways to encourage positive interactions between parent and child.
- Consult with the early intervention team and other professionals to determine how the environment of the child can be modified as well as their everyday routines and activities to promote participation.
The Parent’s Role
The parents have a huge role in the therapy of their child. It’s important that they understand what the therapist is doing and participate. This will assist them in helping their child at home.
Take sensory integration for an example. An essential way a parent (or teacher) can expedite sensory integration and sensory processing is by realizing that it is real and has an impact on the child’s development. Although teachers and parents offer an enriched environment for the child to promote healthy maturation and growth, they should also consider the unique needs of each child.
By working with a pediatric occupational therapist for early intervention, parents can enhance their child’s physical, social, cognitive, emotional, communicative, and adaptive developments.