Occupational therapists can help children struggling with fine or gross motor skills, handwriting, self-help skills and sensory processing.
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.
– Difficulty holding head and shoulders up when lying on tummy
– Head falls back when pulled to sitting position
– Hands frequently clenched
– Not reaching for and holding toys
– Not bringing hands together
– Not exploring toys with hands, mouth and eyes
– 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
– 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
– Not scribbling on paper
– No imitation of stacking blocks
– Not standing or walking independently
– Not able to walk up or down stairs holding on
– Not feeding themselves using a spoon
– Not helping with getting dressed
– Difficulty walking up or down stairs independently
– Not running or jumping
– Difficulty threading
– Unable to catch, throw and kick a ball
– Not toilet trained during the day
– Not drawing lines and circles
– 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.
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.Make an Appointment
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.Make an Appointment
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.Make an Appointment
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
A referral under this Medicare service is typically obtained following consultations with your GP, Paediatrician or Psychiatrist. Individuals who have obtained this referral, may potentially have access to up to 10 rebated sessions per calendar year.Make an Appointment
Chronic Disease & Complex Needs initiative (Formerly known as Enhanced Primary Care Plan)
A referral under this this Medicare service is typically obtained following consultations with your GP. Individuals who have obtained this referral, may potentially have access to up to 5 rebated sessions per calendar year. A rebate of $52.95 is available.Make an Appointment
Helping Children with Autism initiative – Medicare
A referral under this Medicare service is typically obtained following consultations with your Paediatrician or Psychiatrist. Under this initiative, 4 sessions may be available for assessment purposes. Referrals can be made for children under 13 years old for assessment purposes and under 15 years old for therapy. Rebate for Occuptational Therapy is $74.80.Make an Appointment
Follow Up Allied Health Services for People of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Descent
Follow up allied health items are available to people of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent, on referral from their GP. A rebate of $52.95 is available.Make an Appointment
Helping Children with Autism (HCWA) and Better Start for Children with Disability
Youthrive is a recognised provider under the Department of Social Services funding under the ‘Helping Children with Autism (HCWA)’ and ‘Better Start for Children with Disability’ initiatives. Children under the age of 7 years who have a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or a disability, may be eligible for funding for therapeutic services.Make an Appointment
Better Start for Children with Disability - Medicare
A referral under this Medicare initiative is typically obtained following consultations with your GP, specialist or consultant physician. Under this initiative, children with an eligible disability may receive a rebate on 4 sessions for assessment purposes and a further 20 sessions for therapy purposes. Rebate for Occupational Therapy is $74.80.Make an Appointment
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.