As I helped out in my daughter’s classroom a few days ago I was struck by this amazingly smart, agile, bubbly little girl who solved math like a wiz but could not possibly read. There may have been an identity of her condition such as dyslexia, I am not sure. The child appeared to be having difficulty in her visual and perceptual ability that was hindering her ability to read and learn. An appropriate Occupational Therapy intervention could remediate and help her attain the necessary skills for her occupation as a student.
Often enough, the child like her would experience her educators and parents telling her to ‘try harder’. They quickly make an assumption that the child or ‘they’ are not working at her reading well enough. This enthusiastic, intelligent child would soon experience failure and frustration with her performance. Some children would give up somewhere down the road and many others would learn to ‘mask’ their problems but would have permanently impacted their self-esteem and confidence. Concerned parents are told to believe that their child would grow out of it. But in reality children neither grow out nor become better by being repeatedly told to try harder. When they do not receive appropriate and sufficient intervention at the right time they become frustrated, and would try to cover up to deal with the environment but would often experience challenges later trying to meet the demands of adult life.
Whereas an adult’s occupation usually entails daily living and vocation, a child occupation is to play and learn. A child consistently having difficulty applying age appropriate skills at play or at school is telltale sign of a need for professional evaluation. The child may have an underlying deficit with his neurological foundation or in sensory, motor or perceptual areas.
An Occupational Therapy assessment identifies an individual’s set of skills and areas of strength and weaknesses. The “Action Plan” is set considering the individual’s needs and family’s priorities. Therapeutic Interventions often utilize the context of play to treat children and remediate their function. Therapy goals are to make the child as functionally independent as possible.
Children may receive occupational therapy services as a medical necessity. When Occupational Therapy is deemed medically necessary it is usually covered by the bearer’s medical insurance. Children may have a medical diagnosis established by their physician when occupational therapy is medically necessary. Referral to occupational therapy specialty by the child’s physician may be required by some insurance carriers in order to cover the cost of services.
Therapy is carried out in a conducive or sensory rich environment depending on the individual need of every child. Pediatric Occupational Therapy uses different models of practice – direct intervention, consultation with the child’s caregivers and home support program to maximize the outcome for every child.
Harsha Rana OTR/L, MBA is a licensed Occupational Therapist and is certified in Sensory Integration. You may contact her or Pediatric Occupational Therapy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 888-298-0347.