by Paige Engbers
Should I bring my child in for pediatric occupational therapy? This is a question we hear often because many people don’t know what occupational therapy is and what it can do for their child. Occupational therapy can benefit any child age 0-18 who is experiencing difficulty with every day activities. These difficulties may include one or more of the following:
- Poor balance
- Picky eating
- Emotional outbursts caused by sound/texture/etc.
- Poor sleep
- Motor developmental delays
- Bed wetting
- Poor concentration
This is not an all-inclusive list, as each child is unique.
When children have these kinds of difficulties, they are often related to issues with sensory processing and/or reflexes that haven’t integrated. Sensory processing is an individual’s ability to process sound, movement, sight, touch, and taste. The ability to process this sensory input is necessary to allow the body to respond appropriately to the input. If a child has difficulty processing sensory input, they may have unexplained outbursts, difficulty focusing on tasks, or they may shut down completely. Reflex integration typically occurs within the first few months to years of life. Babies are born with reflexes, which are essential to the development of their brain and body. For example, a baby will grasp something when it is placed in his hand due to the grasp reflex. As he develops, this response becomes integrated and no longer occurs, allowing mature hand coordination skills. If these reflexes remain present, the reflex could cause difficulties with coordination and several other tasks involved in everyday activities.
At Kinetic Edge, the occupational therapists approach these challenges using sensory and reflex integration. When we look at a child’s development, we view it as a pyramid. The bottom of the pyramid is sensory processing and reflex integration, two important components of foundational development. The top of the pyramid contains activities that involve complex thinking and problem solving, such as academic learning, behavior, and daily activities. If a child is lacking a strong foundation, he may experience difficulty with tasks that seem easy for other children.
If you notice your child is having difficulty with tasks at school or home, he or she may benefit from occupational therapy. Our goal as occupational therapists is to enrich the lives of children and their families through therapy that is fun, meaningful, and motivating. Using a bottom up approach, it is our hope that children can build a strong foundation which allows them to participate in meaningful activities they were unable to experience before. It could be a child attending a sleepover because they are no longer anxious or a family going out for dinner because their child is no longer bothered by the noisy restaurant. Together, we can change the life of a child and in turn, the life of a family.
Feel free to reach out if you have concerns about your child, we would be happy to talk about if pediatric occupational therapy may be right for them. You may request an appointment or schedule a free screen by calling 866-588-0230.