As a Paediatric Occupational Therapist, I am trained to work with children with varying levels of ability, who may have physical, sensory, or learning difficulties. I can also work with children who have less visible forms of disabilities but, may be struggling at school. I work with children who have no diagnosis or disability at all but may have difficulty with some of their everyday tasks.
When a child is referred to Occupational Therapy, an assessment of their skills will be completed.
Having completed an assessment, I will link with the child's carers to give feedback and if needs have been identified, they will create and implement an intervention plan. This may include direct therapy/intervention, consultation, training and/or individualised programmes. Depending on the need identified, I may work individually with children or in groups.
Intervention can involve working on:
Motor Coordination - children who have difficulty with Fine Motor Skills might struggle with the completion of intricate tasks using their hands, including tasks involving buttons, zips, laces, grasping cutlery and pencils, handwriting, the use of scissors etc. Fine motor difficulties can lead to children needing a lot more help at home and at school. It can affect their speed and endurance when completing everyday tasks.
I can help determine your child's difficulties and offer intervention/provide you with strategies to help address these issues.
Children who have difficulty with Gross Motor Skills can struggle to move in a fluid, coordinated manner, they may use too much or too little force to complete tasks and can appear destructive or weak when compared to their peers. These children may also be more accident prone and may bump into people and objects. Children with these difficulties often appear “clumsy” and may start to avoid movements they find difficult, preferring to engage in more sedentary play. They may have difficulty riding a bike, swimming, or participating in team sports.
Handwriting - handwriting is a complex skill and there can be a variety of reasons why a child might be struggling with handwriting. I can offer a comprehensive and standardised approach to handwriting assessment involving observation of pencil grasp, pencil control, body posture, letter formation/spacing/alignment, handwriting speed, visual processing skills, upper limb function, muscle tone - all of which can affect handwriting quality and speed.
I can suggest interventions to address these difficulties, monitor your child's handwriting over time and recommend, if necessary, alternative methods of recording, e.g., assistive technology, if necessary. I have extensive experience in recommendations of assistive technology for use in school settings, as well as, alternative strategies for production of written work for exams.
I am one of only 2 therapists in Ireland certified by the Internationally recognised Handwriting Without Tears Programme (www.hwtcertification.com).
Sensory Processing - Sensory Processing refers to our body's ability to recognise, interpret, and respond to the sensory information constantly coming from all around us, in a timely and appropriate manner. Children with sensory processing difficulties may over or under-respond to sensory input. They may have difficulty filtering out background/everyday sounds or may perceive harmless information as a potential threat and react in what appears to be an over-response. These difficulties can impact the child's ability to carry out everyday tasks such as brushing their teeth/hair, washing their hands/face, wearing certain types of clothes, paying attention in class etc. Occupational Therapists are specialists in assessing and providing intervention to address sensory difficulties. In addition to Sensory Integration intervention, provision of Sensory Diets etc., I have also been trained in the implementation of the Wilbarger Therapressure “Brushing Programme” and am certified in Listening with the Whole Body/Therapeutic Listening (sometimes referred to as Music Therapy) and can develop and implement Therapeutic Listening Programmes for your child.
Daily living skills – I can help children and young adults develop and refine the necessary skills for independent living, e.g., dressing, grooming, maintaining personal hygiene, eating, participation in play and leisure activities, and organising themselves and their belongings for school etc.
Visual Processing - accurate visual processing skills, i.e., Visual Perception, and Visual-Motor Integration help us make sense of what we see. Difficulties with these skills can have a significant impact on handwriting, any task requiring eye-hand coordination, spatial relations, sequencing, matching, identifying differences & similarities in things, reading and spelling, copying information etc. An OT assessment can identify if visual processing components could be affecting your child's progress and appropriate strategies can then be provided to treat/accommodate same.
Attention – Ability to attend school can be impacted by difficulty sitting still, listening, screening out background noises, following instructions and acting on key information. Often sensory processing can have a significant impact on attention, I can assess and assist with this.
Executive Functioning – Some children find it really difficult to organise themselves, they often need regular and sustained prompting to complete tasks and can struggle to make plans, manage their belongings/their time, organise themselves, memorise/retain/recall information, follow directions or start tasks, if this is the case, the child may have executive function difficulties. I am trained to evaluate the child's performance relative to their age and recommend strategies that may make home and school life easier.