OT Week – Unlocking Your Child’s Full Potential with Paediatric Occupational Therapy 

OT Week October 23-29. Unlock your child's full potential with Paediatric Occupational Therapy.

From the 23rd to the 29th of October it is national OT week!

This dedicated week offers a unique opportunity to spotlight the remarkable skills of our Occupational Therapy professionals at St Jude’s. We’re proud to showcase the exceptional services and unwavering care they provide to our clients every day.

Belinda McKay, our Manager of Pediatric Therapy Services, shared valuable insights into the support offered to children through Pediatric Occupational Therapy services. She highlighted how Occupational Therapy can be integrated with other therapeutic disciplines to aid a child to achieve their goals and enhance their skills.

How can occupational therapy help a child?

Occupational Therapy empowers children to excel in essential tasks, fostering independence in their daily activities. Our dedicated therapists enhance their play, social interactions, school performance, group activities, and regular routines. We’re here to nurture their full potential.

Our Pediatric Occupational Therapists will work with your child to build their independence by focusing on important and necessary daily living activities. These include:

  • Fine motor skills (handwriting, grasp and manipulation of small items)
  • Gross motor skills (sitting, crawling, throwing a ball)
  • Self- care skills (dressing, eating, toileting)
  • Self-management skills (emotional regulation, sensory processing)
  • Learning skills (attention, concentration, executive functioning)
  • Social skills (engaging with others, play, making friends)
  • School activities and equipment needs
  • Leisure activities and community supports
  • Visual and auditory processing

Our ultimate goals include engaging in meaningful activities, honing vital skills for school, home, and community success, and unlocking a higher quality of life. We achieve this by directly working with children or offering guidance to families and schools. Additionally, we conduct Functional Capacity Assessments and Reports, especially for the families of children looking to obtain NDIS funding.

Why might a child need Occupational Therapy? 

Occupational Therapy steps in when children face challenges with fine and gross motor skills, emotional regulation, sensory processing, or self-care. OT also addresses issues related to task transitions such as going in between classrooms, or from one activity to another. We are able to enhance play skills and social interactions, teaching important abilities like turn-taking, and enabling children to engage more effectively with their peers.

For children with mobility issues, we provide valuable support in acquiring and using aids such as wheelchairs, ensuring they can move confidently.

For children with autism, our approach is personalized and structured. Through tailored interventions, we help children respond better to their surroundings. Our focus encompasses essential areas like self-care, play skills, and sensory processing. Working closely with each child, we design a detailed plan including activities for engagement to enhance their abilities in these crucial areas, empowering them to lead a more fulfilling life.

For more information on how Occupational Therapy can help a child with Autism, click here.

How do Occupational Therapy services differ for toddlers vs older school-aged children and adolescents?

Toddlers thrive and learn through play, so therapy for them must be both fun and engaging. Some children require guidance to develop play skills, as they might struggle to model behaviors from others. Younger children naturally adapt and learn swiftly, while school-aged kids benefit from structured learning, focusing on concentration and task persistence.

For teenagers, therapy revolves around school engagement, fostering positive peer relationships, maintaining academic performance, and exploring post-school options like tertiary education, TAFE, or specialized courses.

Regardless of age, therapy should always be engaging and child-driven, aligning with the therapist’s goals. At every stage, our approach is designed to captivate young minds and facilitate their growth.

What is the role of early intervention in occupational therapy?

Early Intervention can be effective in helping children make progress toward achieving age appropriate developmental milestones. Purposeful play is essential to a child’s brain development, especially in the crucial first three years of life. Through targeted Early Intervention support, children not only exhibit improved academic readiness but also develop enhanced social skills, enabling them to interact more effectively with their peers.

OT in early intervention for children addresses critical developmental areas, supporting healthy development and preventing delays. OT empowers children to become more engaged in their daily activities, from self-help tasks to active participation in school and play.

How can Occupational Therapy help with children’s motor skills?

As Occupational Therapists, our role is to enrich a child’s daily life with tailored strategies and activities that align with their therapy objectives. Whether enhancing fine or gross motor skills, these activities can be conducted one-on-one or in group settings. For example, we might focus on refining fine motor skills such as developing a pincer grasp, a vital step toward holding a pencil confidently. This improvement, nurtured through therapy, significantly boosts the child’s handwriting abilities and overall school readiness.

During an OT session centered on motor skill development, we might create an engaging obstacle course. Here, the child would learn to navigate around various objects, becoming more proficient in their bodily and spatial awareness skills.

We extend our support beyond therapy sessions. We also provide valuable education to Teaching Assistants, Education Assistants, and parents, offering essential insights and techniques that can be integrated into both school and home environments.

How can OT services benefit a child’s mental health as well as physical wellbeing? 

Supporting a child to develop their skills not only reduces anxiety but also enhances their confidence in their abilities. By addressing their sensory needs, we can promote emotional regulation, leading to a decrease in behaviors of concern. Through skill development and strong social support, children become more willing to actively engage with others, becoming active community members. This not only reduces their feelings of isolation but also fosters a sense of belonging and purpose.

Which therapy services can be utilized for children?  

OT operates within a dynamic collaborative team, encompassing multiple therapy disciplines including Speech Pathology, Positive Behavior Support, and Psychology. While each discipline approaches a child’s needs uniquely, we share common objectives and collaborate to achieve them.

When a Physiotherapist introduces hydrotherapy, an OT may join the process if the child experiences sensory challenges in the pool environment. By aligning Physiotherapy and Positive Behavior Support strategies with OT methods, we create a consistent approach that aids in the child’s learning and development.

Pediatric Speech Pathology may involve setting up a communication device and then demonstrating to an OT how to use it with the child. This could be especially useful during OT sessions when working towards a goal for the child to use their communication device to aid with tasks. This collaborative approach ensures a unified communication strategy.

A Dietitian and OT may work together to support mealtimes and broaden a range of foods for a child. In combination with Psychology, we can address related anxieties and tackle potential issues related to demand avoidance, fostering a holistic and supportive environment for the child’s growth.

Where can OT and other therapy services be accessed? 

Pediatric Occupational Therapy services are versatile and can be tailored to meet the child’s needs in a variety of settings. Whether at home, school, daycare, in social environments, or during activity-focused sessions like our specially designed school holiday programs, we focus on skill development and socialization.

Occupational Therapy can take place wherever the child feels at ease, aiding them in achieving their goals effectively. Working in natural settings is often ideal. For instance, when enhancing social skills in a group setting, an OT might provide support to the child in contexts such as group art classes, assisting with forming social connections while navigating task-focused interactions.

At St Jude’s, we extend our Pediatric therapy services across a wide range of locations, covering the Perth metropolitan area from Joondalup to Rockingham, and even reaching Esperance. Our goal is to provide comprehensive and accessible care, ensuring children can thrive in environments where they feel most comfortable.

With over four decades of expertise in assisting individuals with disabilities, we are committed to enhancing your quality of life.

If you are interested in finding out more about how our outstanding Pediatric Occupational Therapy services can support your child, please contact our friendly team.