You may wonder why your baby is being recommended for occupational therapy when they are obviously too young to have a job. But children do have an important job. Their job is to play and learn, and your child’s Occupational Therapist (OT) will help them do this as independently as possible.
What is a First Steps Occupational Therapist?
First Steps Occupational Therapists work with babies and toddlers with a variety of challenges including autism, ADD/ADHD, Down syndrome, sensory integration problems, feeding disorders and visual processing disorders. All of these can affect a child’s ability to eventually master daily tasks over the next several years like getting dressed, going to the bathroom, eating, coloring, writing and interacting appropriately with others.
Occupational Therapists work on cognitive, physical and motor skills to help children become more independent and self-sufficient. When children begin to do things on their own, they feel pride and confidence in their abilities. They do not have to rely on others as much because they can adapt to do things themselves.
OTs also address social skills like taking turns, transitioning between activities and making eye contact. Whether your child gets upset when they cannot stack blocks, has trouble getting Cheerios from their high chair tray to their mouth, or becomes upset when touching something squishy, our Kids Only First Steps Occupational Therapists can help.
Wide Array of Occupational Therapy Activities
Occupational Therapists will help your toddler work on activities geared toward their individual needs and goals. An OT might work with your child to break down complex tasks into smaller parts and then link activities together. They may even teach them appropriate social behaviors such as sharing, asking for more, taking turns or indicating that they are all done with an activity.
Some children dislike different food textures, certain clothing fabrics or too much noise. Your child’s OT can help them adjust to different sensory experiences without feeling as anxious or distressed. Your child can learn ways to soothe and calm themselves throughout the day as well.
As your baby becomes a toddler (and beyond), your OT can help you create routines that make it easier for your child to transition between activities. Children with autism in particular may have a difficult time with change and coping when things do not go as planned. The life skills your child learns from their Occupational Therapist can help them even after they finish First Steps and get ready for that next big step: starting preschool.