At HPAM, we monitor our children from an early age to ensure they are making good levels of development physically. If we feel a child is not meeting typical levels of fine or gros motor skills (or other areas of their physical development) the SENCO will talk meet with you to discuss a possible referral to the Occupational Team.
If you child has an EHCP, they may have an OT package written into their Section F. If this is the case for your child, our own therapist comes into school once a week to deliver packages to the EHCP children on a rotational basis.
Occupational Therapy is usually assessed by the NHS. It is usually when the teacher notices a child is struggling with some physical skills such as buttons on a shirt or kicking a ball. Occupational Therapy tasks and activities works to improve fine and gross motor skills and motor planning. It can also help kids who struggle with self-regulation and sensory processing. The therapy is tailored to a child’s specific needs. Before it begins, an occupational therapist (an OT) looks at a child’s strengths and challenges, and the tasks that child has trouble with. The OT will then create a program of activities for the child to work on.
Here are examples of the tasks and skills OTs might focus on:
Self-care routines like getting dressed (fine motor skills and motor planning)
Writing and copying notes (fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination)
Holding and controlling a pencil, using scissors (fine motor skills, motor planning)
Throwing and catching (gross motor skills like balance and coordination)
Organising their school bag (motor planning, organization skills)
Reacting to sensory input (self-regulation skills)
OT consists of exercises and activities to build specific skills that are weak. For example, if a child has very messy handwriting, therapy may include multisensory techniques to help with handwriting. If a child struggles with focus, the therapist might have that child do full-body exercises before sitting down to do homework.
The earlier a child starts OT, the more effective it tends to be. Being able to do basic tasks can also help build up kids’ self-esteem and confidence, which can drop when they are struggling, especially in front of their peers.