Childhood is one of the most important stages of an individual's development, and it extends from birth to the age of eighteen. The child depends on play to develop his motor, mental, and social skills, which are considered his main occupation. Therefore, the occupational therapist provides treatment of training the child on the skills needed for daily activities such as eating, bathing, dressing and going to school through play.
The department of occupational therapy for children aims on matching the child's abilities with his chronological age. the occupational therapist assists the child and the caregiver in overcoming the difficulties of performing daily life activities. In addition, the occupational therapist helps the child improve his performance, develop his individual capabilities for performing his daily activities independently, and reduce his level of dependence on the caregiver. This is done through helping the child gain the necessary skills to deal with life situations at home or school and developing these skills, which include motor, sensory, mental and social skills.
The occupational therapist takes a comprehensive view of the child, taking into account the influence of his strengths and weaknesses on the completion of tasks, and the influence of the surrounding environment on the correct response and the child’s desire to participate in the task. So, the therapist's role begins with assessing the condition of the child and the extent of the barriers that impede an individual's completion of the activity.
Accordingly, he develops an appropriate treatment plan that may include modifying some activities for the individual to suit his abilities, introducing new activities suitable for the individual, or suggesting some assistive tools that assist the child to perform their daily life activities in the simplest way possible. Another role that the therapist plays is to provide advices and suggestions to make the home an appropriate environment for the child's health, by reducing the movement barriers that hinder the child.
Develop the child's motor skills: by providing
activities that require joint movement and using muscles to reach the goal.
Enhance the child's sensory abilities: by stimulating the sensory receptors through activities that include touch such as touching sand, sounds such as quiet music or the child's favorite song, strong or dim lights, and others.
Develop cognitive skills: the therapist may give the child a puzzle appropriate to his abilities, or an activity that needs thinking and problem solving, such as classifying things or solving a maze.
Enhance social skills: the therapist may train the child to control his emotions in social settings, such as waiting for his turn, sharing things with others, and the therapist may share the therapy session with another child.
One of our roles includes educating and guiding the caregiver about the importance of maintaining a child’s consistent daily routine. Organizing and arranging daily life activities through a harmonious and organized routine helps the individual accomplish the most possible number of tasks. It also allows the caregiver to have some time for his personal tasks. This routine must be flexible and adjustable until it reaches the stage of stability as soon as the child behavior improves.
The therapist wants to:
As much as we care about the child we care about the caregiver (whether a family member or somebody else) by providing psychological support, instructions and guidance. As long as the caregiver commits and follows these instructions, it will benefit him and help him to perform his role. These might include educating the caregiver how to meet the child's needs and positions that facilitate the performance of required tasks. The caregiver needs to have a balance between his individual needs and the child's needs so he can find time for himself and his own tasks in order to not deplete or exhaust his energy by achieve a balance between his tasks and the tasks related to the child.
Another service that improves the child performance provided by the occupational therapy department is a home visit. It allows the occupational therapist to have an opportunity to take a comprehensive and real view of the child's life in his home, which is his primary environment as the environment might hinder or facilitate the child’s performance and engagement. An occupational therapist's
knowledge about some details such as the number of family members,
the area of the house, the number of rooms, available tools, the
movement and participation of the child, the strengths and
weaknesses in performing the tasks, and other things helps him to
give the caregiver some ideas, directions and instructions that make
the child's environment suitable for him.
The pediatric occupational therapy department receives many cases aging from 0-12, including: cerebral palsy, down syndrome, developmental delay, autism, hyperactivity, and others in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Hospital, Ibn Sina Hospital, NBK Hospital, Al-Babtain Hospital for Burns, Jaber Al-Ahmad Hospital and others.
We also have a role in a mental health hospital where we often receive children with autism, delays and hyperactivity. Treatment often depends on improving the child's attention, developing the child's expression of his needs, enhancing the child's sensory needs, and improving the child's writing skills. We have another role in dysphagia management (swallowing difficulties) and in seating service by choosing and providing the suitable wheelchair for the child.