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It is international Occupational Therapy Day

As part of International Occupational Therapy Day we have put together some information on occupational therapy.

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International Occupational Therapy Day

The World Federation of Occupational Therapy says that occupational therapy is a client-centred health profession concerned with promoting health and well being through occupation. The main goal of OT is to help people to participate in activities of every day life. We can do this by working with children, their families, schools, preschools and other treating professionals.

Childworks OTs help children to participate in school, play and self-care. For example we might help a child to learn how to dress herself or to stay focused on table top activities for school. We help children to develop fine and gross motor skills and to manage situations they find difficult by adapting their environment or helping them to learn strategies to manage difficult situations. Occupational therapists have a number of strategies to help children who are struggling.

Children are always active participants in occupational therapy at Childworks and we try to make each treatment fun so that children are fully engaged.

Childworks takes a functional approach to therapy so we work on building strengths in areas that will make a real difference to your child and family. We have a focus on evidence based practice.

Occupational therapists are fr university trained professionals who are regulated through the Australia Health Practitioner Regulation Agency, the body which regulates other professions such as medical practitioners, nurses and psychologists. The minimum qualification is a four year degree but many occupational therapists have master’s degrees or doctorates.

As part of university training, student occupational therapists spend some time in practical experience in clinics and hospitals. Childworks sometimes takes on students to assist in their studies.

Please contact Childworks if you would like more information about how occupational therapy may be able to help your child. If you would like to find out more about occupational therapy at Childworks please call at 9098 1635 or your can use our contact form. You can read more about occupational therapy at the OT Australia website.


What Is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational therapy Australia states that occupational therapy is a “client-centred health profession concerned with promoting health and well being through occupation. The primary goal of occupational therapy is to enable people to participate in the activities of everyday life. Occupational therapists achieve this outcome by working with people and communities to enhance their ability to engage in the occupations they want to, need to, or are expected to do, or by modifying the occupation or the environment to better support their occupational engagement”.

In other words, occupational therapists help people to do things. When working with children the activities they need to do include, attend and engage in school, participate in sport, play, social interactions and so on. So occupational therapy could include helping a child improve his or her handwriting, helping concentration, prescribing a wheelchair or other equipment to help the child in everyday life.

Most occupational therapists study a 4 year university degree including science subjects.  An alternative training regime for people who already have a degree in science is to undertake a 2 year Masters degree in occupational therapy.

All practicing occupational therapists in Australia must be registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency.

Occupational therapists work closely with other professions and the families of children we work with.

If you would like more information about how occupational therapy might help your child please call Childworks.


Travelling with Disabled Children

Travelling with disabled children can be challenging. Here is a new innovation for physically disabled children who need support when flying. The seats in aeroplanes are generally designed for adults. This makes them particularly difficult for some children as they do not provide enough support.

Here is the travel chair, an adjustable seating system for disabled children to use in flight.


Scissor Skills

The ability to use scissors is part of school participation. More importantly, the development of good scissor skills can help improve specific skills needed for good handwriting.   The ability to open and close the web space, the active use of one side of the hand only, and the motor planning of the process contribute to the development of a functional pen/pencil grasp. Cutting also provides a good reward for the child. They really feel they have achieved something when they see the different shapes of paper, cardboard or other material that they have created.

Children differ widely in their ability to use scissors.

Correct scissor position is where the thumb is placed in the top loop and the index or index finger and middle finger in the other loop. Some people prefer to use the middle finger instead of the index finger. The fingers not in loops are curved in against the palm. The thumb side of the hand is active in the cutting process while the other side remains passive. Using the two sides of the hand in two different ways can be a challenge for some children. For children having difficulty with handwriting, practice in using the scissors with the index finger in the lower loop can help the child to develop a more functional pencil grasp.

Cutting with scissors also helps children develop bilateral skills. The non dominant had guides the paper. The two hands are performing different tasks but working together.

By the age of 4 a child is expected to be able to cut along straight lines with accuracy and to cut curves and corners with some error. They should also be moving the paper with the non dominant hand for positioning of the scissors but may still find this a little akward. By the age of  6 a child should be able to cut a range of shapes smoothly and with accuracy and use their hands in a co-ordinated fashion

What if my child has difficulty with scissor skills?

In itself, it may not matter. It may just mean that your child has a little more difficulty when cutting is required at school. However, serious difficulty with using scissors often goes along with a general difficulty with fine motor skills, and possibly handwriting. If that is the case, occupational therapy can help.

You can help your child improve their scissor skills but proving a range of materials to cut for example different weights of cardboard, paper, play dough, straws etc. Also using a variety of different types of scissors can help to develop these skills.

Left handed children may have trouble with ordinary scissors although most seem to manage. You can purchase left handed scissors or you can just try turning the scissors upside down which seems to help some children.

Practice in cutting with scissors can help small children to develop their fine motor skills. It is also fun! Be patient it can take time for little ones to get the idea! Start with safety scissors and something firm (but not too firm) to cut like a thinner style of cardboard. You can make it more fun by drawing a picture on the paper or cardboard first. You can draw a road and pretend that the scissors are a car or a truck. Stay on the road!

Snipping can be a good way to start, for example, snipping straws, the side of a paper cup or your junk mail!

If your child has difficulty with cutting and you are concerned about their general fine motor skills you can contact Childworks to arrange an assessment.