The School Occupational Therapists (OTs) are highly trained medical professionals who evaluate and treat children who have difficulty participating in meaningful activities (or “occupations”) relevant to their daily lives. Although people often think of “occupation” as work or a job, occupation can mean any activity a person engages in. This can include self-care, play and leisure activities, and work. For a child, “work” often involves playing, learning, and going to school.
The Occupational Therapists at Dandenong Valley Special Developmental School work closely with the classroom teachers, parents and other therapists to develop children’s skills that functionally impact upon learning. Areas covered in group and individual sessions include:
- Decreased Strength - difficulty performing age appropriate weight bearing movements and holding body positions against gravity e.g. sitting appropriately in a chair to complete table top activities
- Motor Planning – the ability to carry out age appropriate motor skills in a smooth and coordinated manner. Motor planning relies on sensory feedback from the body and the environment as well as on language, memory and cognitive or thinking skill.
- Body Awareness – the foundation upon which children learn to coordinate their body parts and move through space and around objects in their environment.
- Fine Motor skills – including skills such as pre-writing and handwriting as well as pre-cutting and cutting skills, using a pincer grasp to pick up small items, and buttoning a button on a shirt.
- Bilateral Co-ordination - difficulty using both hands together to perform a task (e.g., tying shoe laces, throwing/catching a ball)
- Self-Care Skills – we promote independence in activities such as dressing, eating and tooth brushing using simplification techniques, social stories and task sequencing.
- Visual Perceptual Disorders - difficulty organizing visual information from the environment in order to perform a task (e.g. putting a puzzle together)
- Sensory Processing - difficulty responding appropriately to different sensory experiences (i.e., touch, taste, sound, and movement) which interferes with the ability to perform daily activities. Assisting staff and parents with providing adequate sensory experiences throughout a child’s day. This will ensure they are at their optimum level for learning.