What is Occupational Therapy (OT) for Children?
“Occupational therapy can help babies, infants, children and young people grow, learn, have fun, socialise and play so they can develop, thrive and reach their full potential.
Occupational therapy enables people to participate in daily life to improve their health and wellbeing. Daily life is made up of many activities (or occupations). Occupations for children or young people may include self-care (getting ready to go out, eating a meal, using the toilet), being productive (going to nursery or school, or volunteering) and leisure – playing with friends or doing hobbies.”
Royal College of Occupational Therapy
Occupational Therapy at Hedgewood School
Our therapy team at Hedgewood work to help our children to maximize their access to learning. The OT team support our pupils to achieve as much independence as possible within all areas of their lives, including:
- recognising their feelings and emotions – and finding strategies to support themselves to feel calm and alert, and ready to learn,
- support with sensory processing: (some children process their senses differently which can, in turn, impact upon all areas of their lives),
- understanding potential triggers for “behaviours” and strategies to support these,
- confidence with different foods and food textures,
- life skills such as: changing for PE; using the toilet; sleep; managing cutlery.
- attention and listening skills,
- movement skills – both large and small body movements (supporting children to access their PE lessons as well as other physical activities, such as outdoor play or exploring new environments)
- fine motor skills, such as handwriting or fastening buttons,
- playing with friends, including turn-taking skills.
Within Hedgewood, our therapy teams’ work is very much integrated into the school’s routine. In addition to providing individual and small group sessions, our therapists provide regular training to school staff to support their knowledge and understanding, and to support the incorporation of OT principles within each class’s daily routine. Each class receives regular ‘Direct Class Support’ from the therapy teams who provide targeted advice and recommendations for the class routine and environment. They also give strategies and advice about individual pupil’s needs.
Our class timetables include a variety of multi-sensory teaching and sensory breaks, determined by the needs of the pupils. We incorporate the teaching of independence skills in ‘real-life’ settings, for example, teaching pupils to put on their own coats for play or helping to prepare snacks. Our classrooms provide access to low-arousal areas and we have access to multiple playground spaces to support those pupils who find a big playground overwhelming. We also use a large “swing room” space and a “light room”.
What does our OT team provide?
Following the initial screening of a pupil, we offer provision based on each child’s needs. The following are interventions we provide:
- Individual OT assessment
- Classroom observations and support
- Consultations with parents, carers and staff
- One-to-one support, group sessions and class-based programmes of support
- Joint OT and Speech and Language therapy sessions
- Individualised school programmes to facilitate each child’s development. These can also be used at home
- Recommendations and/or provision of specialist equipment such as seating, adapted cutlery or sensory equipment
- Teacher / staff training
- Parent training / work shops