ORAL MOTOR/ FEEDING
Occupational Therapists focus on a child’s “occupation”. A child’s occupation is the ability to play, perform in school, and interact with people and objects at a developmentally appropriate level. A child’s ability to engage in all these tasks requires fine motor functioning of the hands, gross motor functioning of the whole body, adequate sensory processing, perceptual motor skill, visual motor integration and the ability to put it all together for learning.
The Occupational Therapists utilize their training and expertise in neurology, neuro-anatomy, motor learning, hand functions, perception and development to focus on the following areas: motor skills, visual-motor and perceptual deficits, handwriting remediation, emotional adjustment, play and school-related tasks etc.
Frequently asked Questions
Children may face difficulties in using classroom supplies such as pencils, crayons, erasers, glue sticks etc. They may also find it challenging to manage fasteners such as buttons, zippers and laces. Their small hand muscles may not have the strength and coordination that is needed for those tasks. An OT utilizes the knowledge of anatomy, biomechanics and neurology to understand the missing components that may be hampering the development of a child’s hand functions. Through various therapeutic activities the child’s hands can get stronger and more coordinated, thus allowing him to experience greater mastery, increased skill and independence.
Children may show some delays in achieving gross motor milestones like crawling, walking, running, catching and throwing or simple jumping activities. These challenges later make it difficult for them to keep up with their peers. These children may avoid the playground, physical games or sports that other children their age find highly rewarding. An OT is the appropriate professional to address the child’s needs in this area. Please call our office to discuss what services can be provided by us to support your child.
Some children have significant difficulty with eating. They either eat a very limited repertoire of foods and / or gag very easily when trying new foods. These children are often referred to as “picky” eaters. Our therapists take a complete history of those foods that the children will eat including but not limited to taking note of the various temperatures, colors and textures the child will tolerate. Treatment for these children focuses on the sensory system that may be oversensitive and incorporates experiences with total body exploration as well as oral exploration. New foods are incrementally introduced following a protocol of what is more likely to be tolerated.
Handwriting skills from the basics of letter formation to taking class notes legibly can be extremely difficult for some children to learn. Occupational Therapists uncover the underlying causes of a child’s difficulty in this area. The child may have weakness, coordination deficits, sensory limitations that do not allow easy control of the pencil, visual tracking deficits or motor planning limitations. Occupational Therapists use a multisensory approach to handwriting remediation that is based on the foundations of hand anatomy, biomechanics and sensory functioning. OTs are familiar with the handwriting programs that are often utilized in your local school district and can be the expert you need to maximize their effectiveness.
From stacking blocks and doing puzzles to writing letters appropriately, a child must be able to perceive differences and relationships between objects in the environment. Occupational Therapists help children discover these relationships and begin a map of the spatial planning that is required to function in our world. All skills are learned through play as children are provided with therapeutic experiences that progress from simple to complex. Through Occupational Therapy treatment improvements have been reported by parents in a child’s handwriting, organizational skills, play skills and school performance.