Occupational therapy (OT) is not always the first treatment proposed for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but research shows OT can greatly benefit children who experience ADHD and sensory processing disorders. Some of the primary symptoms of ADHD include difficulty paying attention, hyperactivity, and impulsive behavior, and OT can help children to regulate these behaviors.
Occupational therapists who provide OT services are licensed professionals who work with individuals of all ages to improve daily skills, including cognitive, motor, physical, and sensory skills. They may also work with patients in a variety of settings, including clinics, hospitals, private practices, and schools. OT can be a great treatment for ADHD, as the skills learned in sessions can be applied to home, school, and social settings to improve overall daily functioning. Here are 10 ways that occupational therapy can help ADHD, as part of a multi-modal treatment approach.
- Implement techniques to improve focus
- Practice time management
- Build organization skills
- Regulation of impulsive behaviors (aggression or anger)
- Gain tools to adapt to different environments and activities
- Work on social skills
- Improve physical coordination
- Help to stay on track by setting daily schedules for chores, homework, and tasks
- Regulate hyperactivity
- Work on handwriting
Occupational therapists can help children with ADHD to build these skills, among others, through a range of therapeutic strategies. As every child has different needs, OT sessions can vary greatly in structure. Occupational therapists may utilize sensory therapy for ADHD treatment, as many children with ADHD also experience sensory processing disorders. Studies show that sensory intervention can be helpful in regulating attention deficits, hyperactivity, and impulsive behaviors. Some examples of sensory therapy techniques include:
- Exercise (typically strenuous)
- Deep pressure
- Playing with Play Doh (particularly for children who are tactically defensive)
- Implementing diets shown to improve sensory processing disorders
- Helping to improve sleep cycles and methods for falling asleep
- Using special sensory toys
Do you think your child may be a fit for OT? Contact Chicago Occupational Therapy to connect with our team about in-home services from a team of top therapists. Chicago Occupational Therapy offers a range of services to fit the unique needs of your child, including ABA therapy, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, and a therapeutic preschool.