We usually hear about occupational therapy (OT) in a certain context: when adults are rehabilitated after a stroke, an accident or complicated surgery. Occupational therapy helps people to learn to do the activities of daily life – self-care and social skills, social interaction, education, work.
Why should children with LD/ADHD go through OT?
The main occupation of children is to play and learn. Children with LD/ADHD usually have issues with sensory integration, also known as Sensory Processing Disorder which hinders their ability to play and learn. Occupational therapy will help to integrate all the senses. Since we perceive, understand and behave according to what the senses tell us, a breakdown or disturbance in this neural pathway will cause changes in the way we behave.
If a child’s auditory (hearing) sense is under stimulated (hypo) the child will not pick up all the sounds she hears. When she listens to a nursery rhyme (Ding, Dong, Bell) she may hear it as:
Ing, ong, ell
Ssy’s in ell
Oo put in
She’ll miss sounds and words.
Sometimes LD/ADHD can occur along with one or more of the conditions listed below. OT together with Special Education are necessary for the child to be able to learn and to integrate into her environment.
|Watch the OT Video here: Courtesy Madras Dyslexia Association|
Dysgraphia is difficulty with writing. Handwriting is a fine motor skill. Look at the spaces between letters and words in the above sample. They are uneven and ‘odd’. Despite the child having learned her lesson she has difficulty in writing her answers. She also tends to substitute words which are incorrect – bath instead of shower, wood instead of log.
Dyspraxia is the inability to plan and carry out sensory and motor tasks. The child is clumsy and not well-coordinated. He can’t walk in a straight line; he’ll have trouble copying from the blackboard; he won’t know how to plan and write his answers within the lines of his notebook. His writing is all over the page. He has trouble remembering what happened in class (short-term memory); he will push and shove in a group (can’t perceive distance and body space); has no control over emotions - when he’s angry he’s violent, when he cries he won’t know how to stop and when he’s happy, he’ll shout at the top of his voice.
An occupational therapist will assess your child and create a programme which is suitable for the individual needs of your child. It may be twice a week or thrice a week sessions. Sometimes a child may require a home programme where a parent/care giver may supervise the therapy requirements for the child every day, and visit the occupational therapist twice or thrice a week for more rigorous sessions. It all depends on the needs to the child.