OT and working with kids through play
One of the most often worked with age groups in OT is the pediatrics population. If a child is referred to OT services, they will be assessed on if they are developing appropriately compared to other kids their age. OT would also look at how the child is participating in any of their meaningful life roles. Other aspects OTs will focus on is if there are any delays (developmental, social, physical, psychological) that inhibit a child’s performance in daily life.
Meaningful activities/ roles for kids include:
- Going to school
- Playing on a sports team
- Playing with friends
- Playing pretend/ imaginary play
- Taking care of younger siblings
- Coloring and other art activities
Typical challenges seen in children that OTs work with include:
- Kids who are unable to successfully participate in school due to fine motor skill challenges
- OTs can work with children who have limited coordination in fingers to use scissors in arts and crafts projects during school
- OTs can work with kids with limited fine motor control so they can successfully handwrite their name.
- Kids who have difficulty playing games due to gross motor challenges
- OTs can work on children with balance difficulties that hinder their ability to play catch with others
- OTs can work on increasing stability in a child’s core so that they can run on the playground with other kids
- Kids who have difficulty socializing with other children due to deficits in social communication. Child may display inappropriate behavior when talking to peers. Child may be unable to pick up on social cues causing them to often feel outcasted
- If you are a parent and notice any of these challenges in your child, you can help in your child’s rehabilitation process by simply playing with them. A lot of what OTs use in their interventions are objects or items the clients are familiar with and have meaning to them. For instance, OTs will encourage parents to use toys around the house that the child normally plays with to work on skills. The most important occupation for a child is their participation in play.
- Here are some ways you can engage in play with your child and work on developing various skills at the same time. The OT will love that you are involved in rehabilitation at home as well.
- If you notice your child is unable to hold their pencil:
- You can work on their finger grasp by having them pick cheerios, one by one, and put them into a bowl. Make a bracelet with the child as they can work on their grasping
- If you notice your child has trouble putting on pants:
- You can make a game out of learning how to dress by playing “Simon Says”
- Have child practice dressing up their favorite toy with pants
- If you notice your child has deficits in social communication:
- You can play a boardgame with them that has a social component to it such as “Pictionary”.
- Play a game that encourages talking like “I Spy”
- If you notice a child has difficulty writing their own name:
- You can make a game out of a coloring task so that they can practice their letters
- Paint shapes with your child on a canvas to work on drawing lines.
- If your child has difficulty processing different types of senses:
- You can encourage your child to play with different textured toys such as spikey balls, soft stuffed animals, and smooth cars.
- Have them play with kinetic sand or finger paint a picture with them
- If your child visual challenges:
- Read a book with them and ask them to pick out a certain word on every page to work on object identification
- Play hide and seek with different colored toys to work on identifying colors
- If your child has trouble standing up or balancing:
○ Play freeze dance with them
○ Play a game where you and your child have to move like different animals from the zoo
- For more information, see these links below: