Occupational Therapy (OT)
Occupational Therapy focuses on the assessment and development of sensorimotor skills that children need in order to access and participate in their school program. Cameron Occupational Therapists (OTs) support students in the areas of gross motor skills and fine motor skills as well as sensory processing and self-regulation. In addition to supporting classroom participation, these skills are critical for early learning and pre-Kindergarten readiness. OTs use therapeutic activities that are graded and adapted to provide the student with the “just right” challenge to make progress toward their sensorimotor goals.
The “occupation” of the preschool-aged child is to play, learn, and socialize within the context of the school environment. An occupational therapist works with children to increase their independence with fine and gross motor skills, as well as sensory processing skills. Children who receive occupational therapy may work on the following skills:
- Forming pre-writing strokes (lines, circles, crosses, squares, triangles, diagonal lines).
- Grasping a writing tool using 3 or 4 fingers. They may hold the marker with a fist or with their index finger pointed toward the paper.
- Using one hand to stabilize the paper and the other to color or write
- Using two hands together effectively for skills like beading, lacing, or cutting.
- Manual dexterity for managing classroom materials (i.e. opening containers).
- Accessing playground equipment
- Postural control and core strength
- Jumping down or forward using two feet
- Dynamic balance (i.e. balancing/hopping on one foot, walking on a balance beam)
- Walking up or down stairs alternating feet
- Ball skills (i.e. throwing, catching, kicking)
Sensory processing differences may also impact a child’s participation in the school environment. The following senses may be affected: Visual, Touch, and Sound Processing, Proprioception (body sense), Vestibular (body position), Interoception (internal body awareness), and oral sensory processing.
Examples of sensory processing differences may include:
- Seeking high amounts of body movement including crashing, falling, jumping, spinning
- Moving more than typical, or appearing as constantly “on the go” and unable to be still
- Being overly cautious with exploring playground or raised surfaces (swings, slides, steps)
- Having difficulty self-regulating to maintain attention to structured tasks (i.e. easily distracted, unable to sit and remain calm, poor visual focus)
- Pulling away from touch experiences (messy textures or physical touch)
- Blinking, squinting, or excessively staring at lights
- Demonstrating a prolonged negative reaction to loud noises (screaming or crying with difficulty recovering)