Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapists can help children struggling with fine or gross motor skills, handwriting, self-help skills and sensory processing.

We can help with your child's:

Self-care

Recreation and play

Gaining Independence

What is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational therapy is a client-centred health profession promoting health and wellbeing through the everyday activities that people do to occupy their time. The primary goal of occupational therapy is to enable people to participate in these activities of everyday life independently. Occupational therapists achieve this outcome with children and young people by working with them to enhance their ability to engage in the tasks they want to, need to, or are expected to do, or by modifying the task or the environment to better support their occupational engagement.

Occupational therapy helps children engage in a meaningful, positive and productive way in their daily occupations. You might say, “not many kids I know have occupations” and you’d be right if we’re talking about paid jobs. But by occupations, we mean all the jobs people do every day, not just the ones we’re paid for. For kids, these jobs are being self-carers (e.g. toilet training & dressing), learners (e.g. engaging in class), friends (e.g. turn taking), family members (e.g. following household routines) and players!

When a child has a delay, difficulty or disability, it can be hard for them to do these everyday jobs.

Meet Youthrive Occupational Therapist Emma McKay:

When should you take your child to see an occupational therapist?

Early intervention is incredibly powerful. During their early childhood years, a young person’s brain is still developing. They are forming new pathways and establishing new habits. If you have any concerns about your child’s development, it is best to seek professional advice as soon as possible, as it is a lot easier to make changes in a child’s early childhood years than later on in life.

If your child is having difficulties in areas such as gross motor movements, fine motor skills, handwriting, visual perception, self-care skills, social skills or sensory processing, they may benefit from seeing an occupational therapist. Some of the key triggers you should be aware of that may indicate your child should see an occupational therapist are listed below. It’s important to remember that every child will develop at different rates. The following indicators are given only as a guide. If you do notice differences between right and left sides of the body (in strength, movement or muscle tone) at any age, consult with a healthcare professional.

3 months

– Difficulty holding head and shoulders up when lying on tummy

– Head falls back when pulled to sitting position

– Hands frequently clenched

6 months

– Not reaching for and holding toys

– Not bringing hands together

– Not exploring toys with hands, mouth and eyes

9 months

– Not rolling

– Not sitting independently

– Not taking weight on legs when held to stand

– Not making attempts to crawl

– Not holding objects

– Not ‘giving’ objects on request

– Cannot move the toy from one hand to the other

12 months

– Not independently mobile (e.g. crawling or walking)

– Not pulling to stand up

– Not feeding themselves finger foods or independently holding bottle/cup

– Not picking up smaller objects with thumb and pointer finger

18 months

– Not scribbling on paper

– No imitation of stacking blocks

– Not standing or walking independently

24 months

– Not able to walk up or down stairs holding on

– Not feeding themselves using a spoon

– Not helping with getting dressed

3 years 

– Difficulty walking up or down stairs independently

– Not running or jumping

– Difficulty threading

4 years

– Unable to catch, throw and kick a ball

– Not toilet trained during the day

– Not drawing lines and circles

5 years

– Not able to stand on one leg or hop on one leg

– Teacher noting concerns about school readiness

– Difficulty independently completing daily routines (e.g. feeding and dressing)

– Not drawing simple pictures

We can help children with

  • Developing fine and gross motor skills
  • Improving hand-eye coordination
  • Prescribing adaptive equipment
  • Dealing with sensory issues
  • Boosting confidence and self-esteem in social situations, promoting development and safety in everyday life.
  • Reading or spelling

Occupational Therapy Assessment

The purpose of assessment is to identify what specific areas children require specialised support. It is an important part of helping to understand your child and their needs. Assessment may include interviews with parents and other stakeholders, observations of your child, meeting your child and asking them questions, playing and completing specific tasks with your child, consulting with your child’s school and/or completing questionnaires about your child.

Assessment

As each child’s sensory preferences and needs are ever changing, Occupational Therapists can assess these needs using the Sensory Processing Measure and the Sensory Profile. Both assessments, will contribute to understanding the impact of the environment on your child’s engagement in what they want or need to do.

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Assessment

Children are required to attend school, and there are various challenges that may have an impact on your child’s success. An Occupational Therapist can assess the motor skills required to sit at the table and hold a pencil, the ability to read from the board and the skills required to remain alert. Common assessments used to measure visual motor integration (skill used to read, trace and letter formation memory) is the Beery VMI or the Test of Visual Perceptual skills. This can be used in conjunction with the Shore Handwriting Screen.

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Assessment

Child development refers to the sequence of physical, language, thought and emotional changes that occur in a child from birth to the beginning of adulthood. Child development can be actively enhanced through targeted therapeutic intervention during Occupational therapy and Speech Therapy. Common assessments used include Miller Functional and participation Scales, Bruininks-Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency, and the Peabody development of motor scales. These assessments can be used from birth to 18 years.

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Rebates and Funding Programs

While Youthrive is a fee paying service, some Medicare and private health insurance rebates may be available for our services. Families are encouraged to speak with their GP and nominated health fund to find out whether they are eligible various rebates. Please note rebates listed below are subject to change without notice.

Better Access to Mental Health Care Initiative
Chronic Disease & Complex Needs initiative (Formerly known as Enhanced Primary Care Plan)
Helping Children with Autism initiative – Medicare
Follow Up Allied Health Services for People of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Descent
Helping Children with Autism (HCWA) and Better Start for Children with Disability
Better Start for Children with Disability - Medicare

We support families

We use a number of therapy styles and approaches to support children, young people and their families. Because the ‘one size fits all’ rule does not always apply, treatment plans often include a combination of therapy styles in order to develop a specialised plan for the individual.

We work with families to create a home environment to suit the needs of their child

Occupation therapists recognise the importance of teamwork. They work with a child’s parents or carers to adapt or modify the environment of a child to better suit their needs. This could be through equipment prescription or other simple modifications.

If your child requires a little extra help with school readiness or they are beginning to show sensitivity to their environment. Parent’s instincts are often correct and if you are worried about your child’s development it may be worthwhile booking in for an assessment. Alternatively seeking information on whether they are meeting their developmental milestones by talking with your General Practitioner or your child’s educator.

No. Although a referral from your GP, Paediatrician or Psychiatrist may entitle to you Medicare rebates which can contribute to the cost of sessions

The first appointment is usually with the parent/s or carer/s, with your child present. This is so that your Occupational Therapist can collect background information about your child and observe how your child engages in the environment. We appreciate if any previous reports can be brought along to the first session if you are happy to share these with your Occupational Therapist.

Therapy is different for every child, but it may include direct work with your child and also strategies for you to put in place at home to assist your child’s behaviour, emotional wellbeing and development.

Occupational Therapy is not a ‘quick fix’ and requires hard work and commitment from families. Improvements may be gradual and occur over a period of weeks or even months.

The number of sessions required will be dependent on your child’s needs and how they progress through set goals. Your Occupational Therapist will work with you and keep you up to date with their progress.

Our workshops & group sessions

Youthrive runs regular interactive workshops for parents, caregivers, educators and children providing a great opportunity to learn how therapy works, receive practical advice and gain support from other families with the same experiences.

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The Youthrive team are passionate about helping kids and young people reach their full potential.

Our dedicated team of qualified professionals provide a number of therapy services including Occupational Therapy, Speech Pathology and Psychology. They have worked with clients with a range of needs and embrace Youthrive’s collaborative approach to therapy.

First Appointment

If you are a parent who has not had any experience with therapy services for your child, the process can seem quite overwhelming. Here’s what to expect at your first appointment.

1

Initial Consultation

The initial appointment is typically one hour in duration. Your child will attend this session for Speech Pathology and Occupational Therapy. For Psychology appointments you will need to check if your child is required for the initial consultation at the time of booking.

2

Information Session

The therapist will ask detailed information about your child’s family history, health and development, education and any concerns you may have.

3

Goals & Assessment

An assessment may be commenced during this initial appointment and goals for therapy will be established.