What Is Occupational Therapy?
Occupational therapy is a certain type of healthcare to help people solve problems that often interfere with a person’s ability to perform activities of daily living.
Occupational therapists often work with people who are diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. OT can help children and adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) improve their focus, organizational skills, time management, and more.
Occupational therapists help overcome barriers to independence. They work with people of all ages who have developmental delays, emotional and behavioral problems, physical disabilities, or other special needs.
What Are Executive Functioning Skills?
Executive functioning skills are the cognitive skills necessary to plan, organize, and complete tasks. They include abilities such as task initiation, time management, focus, and self-regulation.
People with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) often have trouble with executive functioning skills. They may have difficulty starting tasks, completing tasks on time, or focusing on one activity.
How Can Occupational Therapy Help Executive Functioning Skills In Children With ADHD?
Occupational Therapy interventions can be highly beneficial for children with ADHD who are struggling with Executive Functioning skills. OT can help improve focus, attention, and organizational skills. Additionally, OT can help improve frustration tolerance, self-regulation, gross motor skills, and social skills.
There are many ways in which Occupational Therapy can help children with ADHD symptoms improve their Executive Functioning skills, whether they are school-aged children or not. Some of these ways include using sensory interventions, providing task-specific support and accommodations, and teaching specific strategies to help with organization, managing time, and goal setting.
Executive functioning skills are eventually learned by a child. However, some children need more help in everyday life than others.
If you are concerned about your child’s Executive Functioning skills, talk to your pediatrician or an occupational therapist. Occupational therapy can be a highly beneficial treatment for children with ADHD who are struggling with these skills.
Ways In Which Occupational Therapy Helps Kids
Some of the best ways in which occupational therapy can help improve skills in children with ADHD include:
1. Using sensory interventions
Occupational therapists often use sensory interventions to help children with ADHD focus and improve their attention span.
Interventions may include providing different types of sensory input, such as using weighted blankets or providing a fidget toy, to help the child focus better.
2. Providing task-specific support and accommodations
OT can provide specific support and accommodations to help a child with ADHD be successful in completing tasks.
This may include breaking down a task into smaller parts, providing more time to complete a task, or modifying the environment to make it less distracting.
Occupational therapists often work closely with the child’s family and school as part of the child’s treatment team. This means that there can be a significant improvement in the child’s ability to start and complete tasks in different environments, including the home and classroom environments. Environment settings are very important when it comes to ADHD in a classroom, or if the child is masking their ADHD in public.
3. Strategies to help with organization, time management, and goal setting
Occupational therapists work and teach children specific strategies to help them organize their time, set realistic goals, and stay on task.
Although these skills often improve as the child ages and go towards young adults, children with ADHD often find these tasks significantly more difficult. Therefore, it is important to help these children develop these skills at an early age.
4. Encouraging emotional regulation
Children with ADHD often have difficulty regulating their emotions as they can be impulsive. OT can help teach children with attention deficit disorder how to regulate their emotions, stay calm, and focus on tasks.
5. Enhancing social skills
Children with ADHD often struggle with social skills in daily life. OT can help improve social skills by teaching children how to interact effectively with others, communicate effectively, and understand social cues.
6. Improving overall functional abilities
Occupational therapy can help improve a child’s overall functional abilities, which can impact many areas of their life. They can help provide strategies to draw attention to small details.
OT can help children learn how to better perform everyday tasks, such as dressing themselves, completing homework, and taking care of personal hygiene.
Strategies That An Occupational Therapist Might Use
There are a number of different interventions and strategies that an occupational therapist might use to help foster executive functioning skills in a child with ADHD. Some of these strategies include:
1. Providing specific task accommodations
This may involve breaking down a task into smaller, more manageable parts, giving the child more time to complete the task, or modifying the environment to make it less distracting. Working on writing strategies for kids with ADHD can be slightly different from other children.
2. Using visual aids and organizers
An OT might use visuals such as calendars, lists, or charts to help the child keep track of their tasks and goals. This may be in the form of a visual schedule.
3. Teaching time management skills
An OT can help a child learn how to plan and organize their time so they can better meet deadlines.
4. Encouraging self-regulation
An OT can help a child learn how to control their emotions and focus on tasks.
5. Helping with motor skills
An OT might improve the child’s gross and fine motor skills to make completing tasks easier.
6. Fostering social interaction
An occupational therapist might help the child learn how to interact effectively with others, understand social cues, and learn to understand other people’s perspectives.
7. Encouraging problem-solving skills
OT can help a child learn how to come up with different solutions to problems. This helps children learn that there are many different ways to solve the problem and to choose the most effective one.
8. Enhancing sensory processing
An occupational therapist might look at the child’s sensory needs and use different sensory interventions, such as weighted blankets or fidget toys, to help the child better focus and attend to tasks. Children with sensory processing disorder benefit hugely from pediatric occupational therapy that focuses on everyday activities.
Occupational Therapy For ADHD On The Basis Of Age Groups
In the pre-school age group, Occupational Therapy can help with improving fine motor skills, sensory processing, and social skills. OT can also help with developing self-regulation and attention span.
Primary Aged Students
For primary-aged students, Occupational Therapy can help with improving focus, attention span, and organizational skills. It can help your child develop their social skills and cope with frustration.
Secondary Aged Students
For secondary students, Occupational Therapy can help with improving focus, attention span, goal setting, and time management skills. It helps with developing social and emotional regulation skills.
High School Students
In high school, Occupational Therapy can help with improving focus, attention span, goal setting, and time management skills. It can also help with planning, prioritization, and also future planning.
In the case of adults, occupational therapy usually helps with improving focus, time management skills, and setting up systems. Occupational Therapists who work with adults with ADD will work together with the client so they can work together and create effective strategies and systems that work for the adult.
How Safe Is Occupational Therapy For Your Child?
It is safe to say that Occupational Therapy is a very safe treatment for children. There are no serious risks involved and it can help with a wide range of issues.
Always consult with your doctor before starting any type of therapy, but OT is likely a good choice for your child.
Occupational therapy can be an extremely beneficial treatment for children with ADHD. It can help improve executive functioning skills, focus, attention span, and emotional regulation. OT can also help improve overall functional abilities.
If you are considering occupational therapy for your child, consult with your doctor to see if it is the right choice for them.
Finlan, T. (Ed.). (2020, January). Occupational therapy (for parents) – nemours kidshealth. KidsHealth. Retrieved April 1, 2022, from https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/occupational-therapy.html
How occupational therapy can help your child’s executive functioning. Occupational Therapy Helping Children. (2019, April 6). Retrieved March 31, 2022, from https://occupationaltherapy.com.au/how-occupational-therapy-can-help-your-childs-executive-functioning/
Ways occupational therapy helps kids with ADHD. Chicago Occupational Therapy. (2017, January 26). Retrieved March 31, 2022, from https://chicagooccupationaltherapy.com/articles/10-ways-occupational-therapy-helps-kids-with-adhd/