10 Best Benefits of Pediatric Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy is the use of assessments and therapy sessions to help people with a cognitive, a physical or a mental disorder. Occupational therapists work with people of all ages through the lifespan who may need help learning or maintaining life skills. Occupational therapy has many benefits for all ages. Below we talk about the top ten benefits of occupational therapy, in no particular order of importance.

  1. Improving gross motor skills by working on greater movements such as walking, jumping or kicking. Gross motor skills are important for our everyday activities and allow us to have smooth, well-timed movements.
  2. Educating family members for a child’s new routines at home and how to maintain them. During the occupational therapy session, the occupational therapist may work on bed time routines, meal time routines, tummy time routines or toileting routines. Establishing new routines may be difficult at times and the occupational therapist helps assist and educate family members to generalize the new routines over to the home.
  3. Facilitating sensory development through sensory integration and activities that help develop the child’s senses. Occupational therapy sessions may involve activities that explore the child’s environment through their senses. This may include playing with different textures such as play dough or foam, swinging on swings, using a brushing method or aromatherapy.
  4. Promoting skills for independent living such as learning how to brush one’s teeth, how to feed oneself or dress oneself. One goal of occupational therapy is for the child to gain full independence. During therapy, the occupational therapist will work on small steps to add up to completing a full activity independently.
  5. Increasing muscle tone by strengthening the muscles through exercise and activities. Strengthening muscles allow our bodies to have more controlled movements. The occupational therapist may do activities that help with body posture, learning to open things or carrying items such as a basket.
  6. Introducing and assisting with new technology devices. The occupational therapist will help train the child and family members on how to use technology devices and supports at home or in the school.
  7. Learning new routines for school settings. For example, the occupational therapist may create new routines for bathroom breaks or lunch time in the cafeteria. The occupational therapist may also create new routines to decrease problem behaviors.
  8. Improving fine motor skills by working on smaller movements that are used for grasping an item and using an item, such as holding a pencil and writing with it.
  9. Enhancing social skills by teaching awareness of cultural and social norms, learning about how to express one’s interests, understanding how to approach someone and learning how to establish and maintain a relationship with different individuals.
  10. Facilitating better motor planning. Occupational therapy can help children create a non-habitual motor act from start to finish. This means they are able to understand, plan and carry out certain movements or skills that they once could not do.