The demand for occupational therapy in the US has been on a steady incline over the last few years. According to recent studies by IBIS, the growing demand for occupational therapists in the US increased to about 6%.
This positive growth may hint at the trend that more and more parents realize the value of occupational therapy and that many negative stigmas associated with occupational therapy are dissolving with time.
In this article, we will explore the basics that you as a parent need to know about occupational therapy, who needs it, the benefits associated with occupational therapy, and how to prepare your child for the evaluation session and the treatment.
Who needs occupational therapy?
Children are different from each another in the way they perceive and navigate through the world. Occupational therapy attends to physical, sensory, or cognitive challenges that people of all ages could encounter. These challenges could affect the individual from satisfying their emotional, social, and physical needs.
Sometimes it’s difficult for parents to identify when the right time is to see an occupational therapist. Certain signs and behavioral patterns could be early indicators of the need for occupational therapy. Some of these signs include:
- Struggling to pay attention and focus in school and other activities.
- Motor skill challenges include struggling to color or other activities requiring fine motor skills like using scissors.
- Difficulty with writing and minimal progress in improving writing skills
- Incapable of participating in age-appropriate physical activities
- Displaying regular signs of anxiety and aggression like meltdowns and tantrums.
- Sensory processing issues such as hypersensitivity to sound and touch.
Please remember that reading a few blogs and watching social media videos is not enough to allow an unqualified, inexperienced individual to diagnose their children with whatever ailment. This brings us to the next section of this article.
Understanding your child’s needs
You might have been nodding your head while reading through the six signs stipulated above, recognizing some of these behaviors in your own child. It is worthwhile remembering that almost every child displays some or most of these signs throughout their development.
But once a repetition or pattern unfolds, especially one that hinders the child from achieving their basic needs, help from professionals should be sought.
In certain circles, parents still believe that occupational therapy is for “disabled children”. In worst-case scenarios, certain parents would prevent seeking help because they feel embarrassed to have a “disabled” child, and searching for help from an occupational therapist attest to that in their minds.
It is vital to understand that occupational therapy is not just for “disabled” children. Seeing that every child develops in a unique way, there might be little snags along the development curve that could be eased out with minimal therapy. Rather see occupational therapy as a booster toward your child’s future happiness and successful functioning in their environment.
If you do believe that your child could benefit from occupational therapy, then make an appointment with an experienced, vetted occupational therapist for a proper assessment.
How can occupational therapy help the youth?
Occupational therapy will help instill confidence and independence to allow your child to function optimally in the specific environments that might be challenging to them.
By honing their motor skills, sensory procession, social skills, or self-regulation, occupational therapists (along with collaboration from the parents, caregivers, teachers, etc.) can alleviate the pressure of a struggling child to complete daily activities and routines.
This therapy should take into consideration the challenges of the individual child, their environment, and the specific activities that they find challenging to complete on a daily basis. This holistic approach leads to more effective treatment that would render optimal results.
How do I prepare for the first occupational therapy session?
The first step is to go through an evaluation process. This step would entitle the caregiver to complete some administrative forms before or during the evaluation session. The details required may differ between occupational therapists or therapy clinics, and it is recommended that you contact the organization to ensure that you are well-prepared.
Make sure that your child feels comfortable and supported through the evaluation. Prevent putting any pressure on them and invite them to just be themselves. Through this evaluation, the occupational therapist will assess the child’s skills and compare them to the abilities of their peers of the same age.
Where do I find an occupational therapist?
It often happens that schools and teachers may refer parents to specific occupational therapists that helped children from their facility in the past. Sometimes, physicians may also refer parents to specific occupational therapy specialists or organizations to do a proper evaluation.
Parents themselves can inquire about occupational therapy themselves, but it is highly recommended that they pay close attention to online testimonials and reviews. Also, ensure that the therapists are highly experienced in their specific fields and are adequately trained, licensed, and credentialed.
Psychologists and support professionals hired by SuperPSYCHed receive consistent and ongoing training to render services that are extensive, ethical, engaging, and support appropriate eligibility identification.
If you have any additional questions about occupational therapy or would like to book an evaluation session, click here and complete the form, or contact us at 219-750-9600.