When it comes to occupational therapy, most people assume that it's meant for adults only. However, occupational therapy can benefit babies and children who have disabilities, disorders and more as well. Occupational therapy is often recommended for infants who have difficulties with sensory processing or delayed development of their fine motor skills and self-care abilities. The following is a more detailed look into these issues, what causes them, and how occupational therapy can help.
An infant with poor fine motor skills often has issues performing daily skills that are appropriate for their age, such as grabbing objects, holding on to a bottle while drinking, or even bringing their hands up to their mouths. Some of the common issues that can hinder an infant's ability to develop their motor skills include poor muscle tone, hypersensitivity and a lack of motor control and dexterity.
There are a number of reasons that these issues occur. For example, genetic factors, neurological disorders, and pregnancy complications have all been known to lead to problems developing fine motor skills. Occupational therapists will focus on helping infants to develop their fine motor skills through a number of exercises, such as:
Once an occupational therapist has helped an infant to improve their fine motor skills, they will help them apply those new fine motor skills to learning self-care skills, such as learning how to drink from a bottle or how to hold food.
Sensory processing refers to the way that your nervous system receives and senses messages. Once the nervous system has received a message, it's followed by a behavioral response or a motor action. Delayed sensory processing makes it difficult for infants to respond to sensory signals. For example, if an infant is injured, they might not cry. On the other hand, overreactions are possible as a result as well. For example, a sudden change in light or sound can cause an infant to cry.
An occupational therapy therapist will use a variety of exercises to help the infant adapt to their daily surroundings more easily. For instance, the therapist might promote decreased sound sensitivity by helping the infant become more tolerant of common noises.
Some of the common techniques used by occupational therapists in treating delayed sensory processing or sensory processing disabilities include using specialized toys and activities, vestibular input activities, sand and water therapy, joint and brushing compressions, and feeding therapy, just to name a few.
Occupational therapists work in a variety of environments, including pediatric hospitals, healthcare facilities, and private practices. A good occupational therapist will work closely with the infant's parents in order to customize a treatment plan for the infant based on their specific needs and challenges.
If you have an infant that's displaying delayed fine motor skills or sensory processing issues, then consider scheduling an appointment with a professional infant occupational therapist in Vero Beach by contacting us at Advanced Motion Therapeutic today.