The Paediatric Occupational Therapist is a health care professional who works with young babies, and children to help them overcome physical, sensory and cognitive difficulties which may be caused by immaturity of the brain, prematurity, illness or birth defects, in order to help them grow and develop properly.
Our goal is to help reduce the impact of developmental delay on babies, enhance their quality of life and enable functional independence.
Although many babies do not encounter any learning difficulties some do. The good news is that with Early Intervention, the risk of cognitive and academic problems can be greatly reduced.
A significant proportion of babies are at a risk for many conditions which may result in developmental delay.
The Paediatric Occupational Therapist who works with babies will help your baby acquire skills such as:-
- Learn to feed.
- Hold her head up.
- Look and follow with her eyes.
- Learn to soothe herself – Many babies present as difficult to settle (irritable babies). These babies may have sensory or self regulation difficulties and sometimes if the causes are identified early on, it can have a huge impact on helping the baby become more settled.
- Help baby bring her hands to her mouth and body and then to engage with play objects.
- Promote good muscle development through careful infant positioning for example positioning in the car seat and seating at home. Holding/handling of baby during feeding and bathing.
- Encourage good sensory development through appropriate stimulation.
During this early stage the Paediatric Occupational Therapist will concentrate on feeding, sensory and motor development. She will work in collaboration with other team members.
The Paediatric Occupational Therapist who works with older children will help:-
- Your child to do things for herself, eating, bathing, standing to pull up pants, buttoning a shirt, tying shoe laces.
- Play skills such as playing with toys, games, moving to get a toy and playing with friends.
- School skills such as attention, memory skills, being able to organise tasks and writing.
When the Paediatric Occupational Therapist is working with your baby or older child she will do:-
- An in depth developmental, functional, feeding and sensory assessment.
- She will look at things like movement patterns muscle tone, head control and reflexes.
Once the source of the problem has been identified the Paediatric Occupational Therapist will develop a specific therapeutic play programme for your baby that will be carried out by you the parent and other team members. For the older child liaison with the preschool will also occur.
The Paediatric Occupational Therapist will show you how to position, handle and interact with your baby in order to provide appropriate development and prevent problems that are common in babies.
The Paediatric Occupational Therapist will help you learn how to read your baby’s cues, her responses to the environment so that you can help to reduce the stress your baby may experience and help her learn to soothe and organise herself appropriately.
When the Paediatric Occupational Therapist is working with your baby or older child she may:-
- Use direct intervention activities through the use of play.
- Home programmes and pre-school programmes.
- Recommendations regarding equipment, seating bathing toileting and alterations to the environment.
To work with babies your Paediatric Occupational Therapist should have taken advanced training to work with babies.