Remember when you were a kid, learning to tie your shoes? It took awhile, didn't it? With practice and patience, though, you eventually learned how to do it. It was a proud moment for you and your Mom! You could play outside all day without having to trudge home when your shoes came untied. Your Mom could get her work and chores done uninterrupted. But what if you hadn't learned, despite all that practice and patience? What if you couldn't even figure out which shoe went on what foot? Frustration might set in for you and your Mom. Your Mom might even worry, "Why can't she get this? We've been working on it for months and her brother got it so quickly? Is something wrong?" Would your Mom think, "Maybe she needs occupational therapy?" Probably not, because so many people think it only has to do with job skills.
The name alone does implies some sort of job preparation therapy. While occupational therapy will certainly help individuals improve life skills in order to get a job, it focuses on improving and strengthening the everyday daily life skills known as "occupations." Are you still confused? Think of daily life skills you take for granted, like tying your shoes, eating, drinking, sleeping, walking, socializing, dressing, driving, and speaking. These skills are probably automatic for you, accomplished without much thought. Now, imagine if these everyday tasks were extremely difficult or impossible for you? What if you sat looking at your shoes, trying hard to remember and sequence ALL of the steps to tie them but failing, time after time? "Bunny ears, crisscross....how do I make the hole???" How would that impact your life? Would you feel defeated and frustrated? Would you even leave the house? For many adults and children, this is their reality! Occupational Therapy can help improve the quality of life for these individuals by identifying weaknesses or deficits that are the result of sensory, physical or mental barriers.
Pediatric Occupational Therapy
Parents are constantly evaluating their children and comparing their development to other children their age. It's just what we do, warranted or not. This comparison, though, is often what leads the parent to the realization that their child may have a developmental delay or sensory issues, and they are just not progressing like other children. Not all children reach their milestones at the same time, and Fine motor developmental milestones are actually given in a suggested age range.
While your child may have met all of their developmental milestones for their age, they may have certain sensory challenges that are developing. These sensory challenges can delay or interfere with the normal progression of reaching continued milestones, and this progression throughout their childhood is critical. It sets the foundation for a child's continued journey to success as an adolescent and, eventually, as an adult! Identifying and working through sensory, mental or physical delays at an early age is essential to their continued development. Our occupational therapists can help children develop and meet these milestones, resulting in a more confident, independent child with improved concentration, leading to success with daily living skills and even academics. (Read more about sensory challenges and the 'seventh' sense here - There's a Seventh Sense?!)
Not sure if your child needs Occupational Therapy? Use the information and questions below when talking to your pediatrician to determine if a referral to our occupational therapists is needed:
You've noticed that your child is delayed or lacking in certain milestones pertaining to:
Self-care or activities of daily living (brushing teeth, buttoning clothes, using eating utensils.
Fine motor skills (grasping and controlling a pencil, using scissors)
Planning and organizing
You answer 'Yes' to any of the following questions:
Is your child bothered by various textures (grass, sand, sticky items)?
Is your child always bothered by clothing tags?
Does your child scream or cry at bath time? Bedtime? Dinner time?
Is your child uncomfortable wearing socks, underwear or other clothing?
Is your child disturbed by other kids getting close to them or touching them?
Does your child have meltdowns in crowded or noisy places?
Is your child sensitive to tastes and textures or the feel of certain foods?
Noticing a delayed milestone or answering 'yes' to a question does not necessarily mean your child is delayed or needs sensory therapy, but if any of these pertain to your child, talk to your pediatrician.
Adult Occupational Therapy
Occupational Therapists work with adults to help overcome a variety of life skill deficiencies. After an injury or stroke, people can be faced with upper extremity difficulties. Some specific concerns are muscle strains/tears, fractures, amputations, arthritis, ligament instability, hemiparesis and neuromuscular pathologies. Our Occupational Therapists can recommend and utilize orthoses and adaptive equipment to promote increased independence with activities of daily living for post-surgical or post-injury circumstances, as well as utilizing ergonomic principles.
At Auburn Therapy and Learning Center, our occupational therapists also work closely with our speech language therapists as needed to evaluate children and adults in developing an individualized, comprehensive and successful therapy treatment plan. So, if you're a Mom that cringes every time you hear "MOM! Can you help me tie my shoe again?", or perhaps you're an adult struggling to help YOUR Mom recover daily living skills post-stroke, give us a call at 334-734-5511 today!