Our occupational therapist focuses on the development and improvement of skills related to:
Fine motor skills are the ability to use the small muscles in our hands and wrists for precise movements. These muscles are used to complete everyday tasks such as self-care, academics, play, leisure, and work. These tasks look like drawing, coloring, writing, typing, cutting, managing buttons, tying shoes, using utensils to eat, brushing teeth, and brushing hair.
Gross motor skills are the movements that involve the bigger muscles in our trunk, arms, and legs. These muscles are used in whole-body movements; for example: sitting, standing, walking, running, jumping, lifting, and kicking. These whole-body movements are also used to complete everyday tasks. These tasks look like getting dressed, bathing, taking care of others, playing at the park, engaging in hobbies, completing various jobs at work, cooking, and cleaning.
Handwriting is a complex task that uses various abilities that include cognition, gross motor skills, fine motor skills, vision, visual perceptual skills, and so many other skills. Deficits in any of these areas can cause handwriting challenges that can be observed with errors in letter formation, orientation (reversing ‘b’ and ‘d’), placement, size, sequencing, and spacing.
Dysgraphia is a neurological disorder of written expression. It is considered a learning disability that impacts all aspects of the writing process. This creates challenges with spelling, following the rules of grammar, and trouble expressing thoughts through writing. Letters are often poorly formed and spaced incorrectly.
Sensory processing is how the nervous system receives sensory input and generates a behavioral or physiological response. Sensory systems include visual, auditory (e.g., hearing), gustatory (e.g., taste), olfactory (e.g., smell), tactile (e.g., touch), proprioceptive (e.g., know where body is in space), vestibular (e.g., movement and balance), and interoception (e.g., hunger, pain, body temperature, continence) senses. Typically, sensory processing is done subconsciously, effortlessly, and appropriately. Difficulties arise when the information received is not processed properly, resulting in atypical responses. Difficulties with sensory processing may impact a person’s attention, behavior, activity level, learning ability, and social skills.
Vision is more than what the eyes can see. Vision difficulties can arise when the brain and eyes do not work together properly. This can impact visual processing, visual perception, visual motor integration (hand and eyes working together to draw and write), eye tracking (saccades pursuits, convergence, divergence), teaming, and accommodation.* These visual challenges can contribute to learning disabilities and negatively impact academic success.
*saccades – eye movement between stationary points; pursuits – tracking a moving target; convergence – moving your eyes inward to focus on a near point; divergence – moving your eyes outward to focus on a far point; teaming – eyes moving together; accommodation – eyes adjusting to focus on various distances.
Our occupational therapist encourages client participation in daily occupations from daily self-care to specific work duties and leisure activities:
Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) are essential self-care tasks. These include bathing, toileting, dressing, feeding, functional mobility, and personal hygiene (e.g., handwashing, brushing teeth, etc.). The goal is for our clients to achieve these daily tasks safely and independently.
Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs) are activities that support your daily life within the home and community. They are often more complex and require more planning and thinking. These include caregiving, child rearing, chores, cooking, driving, financial management, health management, safety awareness, and shopping. The goal is to help our clients navigate through daily instrumental activities to promote a higher quality of life.
One occupation that is often overlooked is leisure. Leisure activities are what you do in your down time to bring you joy and peace, make your life meaningful, and positively impact your overall health. Occupational therapists have a significant role in helping clients explore and participate in leisure activities to enhance the quality of their lives. The goal is to help our clients identify interests and skills or modify the environment for participation, so that you can get out there and lead the life you want to live.
Employment is one of the main areas that occupational therapists can address. This could be assisting with any of the steps to obtaining and maintaining a job or developing appropriate skills to acquire a job, whether it’s a first job, a new job, or return to work after significant health changes or injury. Oftentimes, tasks will include building skills necessary for submitting applications, preparing for interviews, and/or preforming specific work requirements.