Whatis Occupational Therapy? Occupationaltherapy interventions are designed to allow the child build on areas ofstrength and helps them to improve skills in areas of their weakness. Occupationaltherapy interventions are child-centered and often a session with anOccupational Therapist looks like a fascinating and elaborate play scheme. Occupationaltherapy uses a holistic approach in planning programmes.
This therapy focuseson the physical, social, emotional, sensory and cognitive abilities and needsof the child. Inthe case of autism, Occupational Therapy works to develop skills forhandwriting, fine motor skills and daily living skills. However, the most importantpart is also to assess and target the child’s sensory processing disorders. Itis important to to remove barriers to learning and help the child become calmerand more focused.
Roleof Occupational Therapist AnOccupational Therapist is to promote, maintain, and develop the skills neededby students to be functional in the environment that they are in (home/school)and also in their day to day activities. Active participation in lifepromotes: · learning · self-esteem· self-confidence · independence · socialinteraction. The Occupational Therapist (OT) helpschildren play, develop self-help skills and participatein their school activities as actively as possible. The occupations or”jobs” of children can be broken down into three areas: play, self-care, andlearning/school. The Occupational Therapist will first assess the child todetermine his or her developmental level and to determine whether or how thechild’s issues are getting in the way of “learning” the jobs of childhood. Howdoes Occupational Therapy improve quality of life?Occupational Therapy provides aid to children facingdifficulties in their daily activities like brushing, dressing, toileting,writing, drawing, etc.
The therapy helps develop these self-help skills in them.For children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, the OccupationalTherapist can help gain these skills by observing the child’s behaviour anddeveloping an intervention for them. The OT uses different sets of methods andplans and there is no such single ideal program as each child is different.
These may include activities to help with interaction, puzzles to developcoordination and awareness and more.Thefollowing is a list of some common intervention areas: · Fine Motor Skills Development of smallmuscles needed for fingers to pick up small items. For example, picking up colourfulbeads from bowl using fingers.· VisualMotor Integration Hand eye coordination,such as picking up small pieces of food from the plate and getting it to themouth.· Gross Motor CoordinationWalking, standing,running, jumping· Cognition and perception Thinking and problemsolving. For example, trying to figure out how to get a book off a shelf· Sensory Processing Integration ofinformation coming in from the different senses, such as adjusting your walkfrom the boardwalk to the sand and into the water on a summer day at the beach)· Environmental modifications/adaptiveequipment Changing the environmentso a child can “do” the “work,” such as sliding a special pencil grip onto thepencil so it can be held securely for writing.
Occupational Therapy Activities for ChildrenThere are a variety of activities that can be conducted for childrendepending on the condition. The therapy can be conducted in several places likehome, schools, clinic, specialized centre, etc. It is designed differently forkids of various age group.For Toddlers and Infants:The infants usually face trouble sleeping at night. The common exercisesthat are included are bath time activities, gentle massages and sand and watertherapy.Sensory Integration ActivitiesThese Sensory Integration activities helps a child response moreactively and accurately to the environment.
The activities are designed in sucha way that it creates a deep pressure on the child. For example, soft corners arecreated in the room using soft furnishing like a bean bag which provides awonderful deep pressure for a calming effect.Coordination ActivitiesThese activities are designed for the child’s legs and arms so that theycan coordinate more effectively. These are basically divided into two broadcategories: bilateral and hand-eye coordination skills.
For hand-eyecoordination, you can have your child to hit a ball with a bat, catch a ball,etc. Bilateral activities provide the ability to use both sides of the bodyin an accurate manner. Activities such as rolling out pastry sheets from a playdough can be effective.Visual Perception ActivitiesThese activities help the child understand the information send by eyesto the brain. For form constancy and to help them understand shapes put objectson a tray and ask your child to recognize them.
You may use books to teach themdifferent fonts and same alphabets of different sizes to enhance theirabilities. You can also use jigsaw puzzle to aid development process. Activities for Fine and Gross Motor SkillsFine motor skills activities are required for children who have troubleusing a hand, fingers, and forearm properly.
The basic therapy includes simpleexercises of arms, wrist, fingers, etc., so that they can perform regular worklike holding a pencil with ease.For gross motor skills, you may help the child with core and shoulderactivities.
These activities may include swimming or hopscotch. Research behind InterventionThe NYU Steinhardt’s Department of OccupationalTherapy has conducted a research in the to examine the effectiveness ofoccupational therapy interventions for individuals, groups, or society. Occupational therapists apply their knowledgeto help individuals with disabilities to engage in activities of daily livingas actively as possible and developself-help skills.
Theresearch conducted within the Department has been focused on promoting thequality of occupational therapy and the effectiveness of occupational therapyinterventions. Focus of Research· Is Handwriting interventions effective toimprove the legibility of school aged children? · Are Cognitive and Performance basedmeasures used effective for the prevention and wellness among older adults infall prevention? · How cognitive interventions to promoteneuroplasticity and improve verbal memory and attention · Research on school based interventions forstudents with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) in inclusive classrooms · Are school based yoga programs on adaptivebehaviour in children and adolescents with disabilities efficient · Exploration of strength based practices toimprove outcomes for children, adolescents and adults with Autism SpectrumDisorder Reliabilityand validity of assessment tools used by occupational therapists· Validity of computerized visual perceptualmotor measures for school aged children· Outcome measure for children’soccupational repertoire development Whoconducted the Research?· Yu-Lun Chen is a PhDstudent in the Department of Occupational Therapy at NYU. She has clinicalexperience which includes home-based intervention for children and familieswith neurological and developmental disorders. Yu-Lun’sresearch focuses on participation of children and adolescents with disabilities in schools, homeactivities and in their communities. Her main objectives are to identify thedeterminants of participation outcomes and to improve current services andinterventions.
· Ellen Modlin is a Ph.D. student inthe Department of Occupational Therapy at NYU. She has worked in the NYC publicschools, Early Intervention, and the Nassau County school district. She iscurrently serving on the school district’s assistive tech committee for thedevelopment of screenings and interventions with technology to support studentsin the classroom.
Ellen’s focus of interest is using assistive tech to assiststudents with visual-perceptual deficits. ConclusionBasedon the focus area of the research, the Department’s research agenda isconcerned with finding out the links between occupational therapy education andpractice and the effects of occupational therapy in the real world of practice.Ultimately,the research activities of Department faculty and students goal is to improvethe quality of occupational therapy practice and research. Evaluationof researchStrengthsof research conducted:· Researches that was involved in theresearch are experienced (Based on their work experience in the field)· Research does not only focus on youngchildren but it also focuses on adolescents and adults (not age biased as ithas a wide age range)· Research was conducted in various settingssuch as classrooms, homes and communities· It focuses how Occupational Therapist canserve better to help people with disorders Areasof improvement:· Duration of the research – It should bedone over a longer period of time· Although it focuses on how to improveOccupational Therapist, it would be better if they focus more on how the OTscan help the people with disorders function better in their everyday lives.· Getting parents, guardians or familymembers of people with disorders to be part of this research Future Directions for Occupational TherapyIt isimportant for everyone (parents, teachers, therapist, healthcare personnel etc)to begin focusing on the long-term health and education needs for people of allages and how Occupational Therapy can benefit people with disabilities achievethese needs. On agreater scale, more and more people are accepting the view that disabilityresults from the daily interaction between the individual and his environment,rather than coming from within the person himself. Thisperspective stresses how the ability to carry out activities and participate inlife situations is an essential component of a person’s daily living. Participationis described as involvement in a person’s daily life and represents the highestlevel in the hierarchy of functioning.
Participation is the ultimate long-termobjective of occupational therapy and more focus should be placed on it. Moreresearch should be conducted on how to help people with these disabilities tointegrate themselves into society. Theindividualized treatment approach implemented by occupational therapistsenables people with disabilities to meet the demands of their occupations,promotes well-being, prevents disability and helps people of all ages maintainoptimum health.