How do children respond to occupational therapy?

Occupational Therapists who work with children use a number of approaches to help children feel comfortable during therapy sessions and make progress. Relationship building is key and is at the forefront of any therapeutic relationship so time will be spent getting to know the child and family and building trust and rapport. For younger children, a play-based approach is used to work on areas and skills that the family and the OT have determined to be the focus of the therapy sessions. This play-based approach is often motivating and fun for children as the child and caregiver can collaborate with the therapist to select activities that the child enjoys and are tailored to the child’s interests. For older children, an interest-based approach is also used but with age appropriate activities and concepts. In order for the child to make progress, occupational therapists are trained to provide the ‘just right’ challenge to help the child gain skills in a certain area. Children typically respond very well to this approach as it nudges them forward in small increments that they are more likely to be successful with. The therapist works closely with the family to provide strategies and activities to work on throughout the week between sessions to continue making progress. The combination of weekly therapy, along with a strong home program, and an open line of communication between the therapist and caregivers leads to good outcomes for both the child and family.

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