An estimated 0.6% of children in Miami-Dade schools have an emotional or behavioral disability. Many of these children work with occupational therapists to develop the tools they need to function in an educational environment.
Occupational therapists can play an essential role in a child’s critical developmental milestones. Their work can help develop a solid foundation for children to succeed both now and in the future.
An occupational therapist is a trained professional who helps individuals carry out daily occupations, or tasks. These tasks may include:
Occupational therapists provide support to families and caregivers, but they also handle other things, like care coordination and case management for special needs children.
The aim of occupational therapy (OT) is to help children develop the skills they need to succeed in an educational environment. Occupational therapists work closely with children and their families to create an OT plan that will help children reach their educational goals. They use evaluation tools to build these plans.
OT can help a wide range of special needs children, including those with:
Of course, this list is not exhaustive. Consulting with an occupational therapist can help you determine whether OT will benefit your special needs child.
OT can benefit special needs children in many ways, including:
An OT plan may include activities that help children develop and improve their fine motor skills and coordination. Through these activities, children may learn how to:
Children with more severe developmental delays may learn how to perform basic day-to-day tasks, such as eating, dressing, bathing, tying shoelaces and brushing their teeth.
Special needs children who undergo OT before age six often see improved physical and mental development. These improvements are primarily the result of occupational therapists helping children develop and enhance communication, cognitive, motor and sensory processing skills.
With an OT plan, a therapist can help children achieve their individual educational goals.
With the help of OT, children can learn how to manage difficult emotions, such as frustration and anger. At the same time, they learn how to maintain positive behaviors in a wide range of environments, including at home and in school.
Occupational therapists can help children find healthy ways to manage and express their emotions, such as writing them down or engaging in physical activity.
Working with an occupational therapist can help children with special needs develop the skills and tools they need to succeed both in education and later in life.