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  • SPOTLIGHT ON OT’S

    April
    is the time of year when occupational therapists (OT’s) gets their time to
    shine in the national spotlight… and it is needed. The average person is not
    familiar with OT’s unless he/she or a family member has had a personal experience.
    It is even more unlikely that there is a true understanding of what an
    occupational therapist (OT) does when disability or disease it not involved. Below is a common scenario
    of what happens an OT is brought to light and introduced to a family with a
    young child.

    Johnny’s preschool teacher tells mom that
    she thinks he is having trouble holding a crayon and maybe needs to see a
    specialist. Mom does some research, learns about OT’s, and gets a doctor
    prescription. The OT completes an evaluation, which includes observing Johnny’s
    skills and conducting tests to see how he compares to children his age. The
    report written includes the results noting a delay, recommends therapy once a
    week for 30 minutes, and lists treatment strategies and measurable goals.
    Johnny sees the OT and participates in what looks like playtime. He completes
    exercises to build his strength in his hands as well as his large body muscles
    like walking around “like a bear.” He plays with toys that require him to push,
    pull, snap, or build using his hands differently or more efficiently. He colors
    with a special pencil grip to keep his fingers in place and decrease stress on
    the tiny joints of his young fingers. His OT creates a program for his parents
    to help him at home and measures his progress and creates more challenging
    activities for him until he is able to perform skills appropriate for his age
    level. Johnny’s becomes more independent at school and his confidence improves.

    OT’s
    can focus on many skill areas including dressing and feeding skills. Often a
    child that has trouble holding a crayon properly often also has difficulty
    holding other utensils and may require additional assistance with tasks like
    buttoning a shirt or tying shoelaces. An OT can assist with these life skills
    as well. If your child is struggling with daily activities common for his or
    her age, consult with your pediatrician about seeing an occupational therapist
    for an evaluation. I hope you find this tip helpful. Have a playful day!

    Amy Baez, OTR/L, The Smart Play
    Curator

    Amy Baez is a pediatric
    occupational therapist, award-winning handwriting author, and founder of
    Playapy. For more information, visit
    www.playapy.com or email info@playapy.com.

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