Occupational Therapy:

Fine-Tuning Children's Motor Skills

Some people might think that occupational therapy is just for adults. Children, after all, don't typically have occupations.

But unlike its name might suggest, occupational therapy is effective at helping people of all ages, including children, achieve independence in all areas of their lives.

"Nearly 50 percent of my clients are children," explains Carla Huang, O.T., occupational therapist at Ingalls Family Care Center in Flossmoor. "A child's occupation is to grow, learn and play. Occupational therapy helps children who have a physical, sensory or cognitive disability carry out everyday activities like brushing their teeth, tying their shoes, zipping, buttoning or writing their name."

Overcoming Fine Motor Delays

Like most seventhgraders, Hannah Pollack enjoys an active lifestyle of school, sports and socializing. In 2006, however, Hannah's parents noticed that her handwriting wasn't quite as sharp as it should be. She also had trouble tying her shoes tightly. Small buttons were a problem, too.

"It was frustrating for her," explains Veronica Pollack, Hannah's mom. So the Pollacks paid a visit to Hannah's doctor.

To their surprise, a professional evaluation revealed that Hannah had generalized fine motor delays - a problem much more common than most parents might think. Fine motor delays impact a child's ability to perform grasping activities - like holding a pen to write their name. Hannah's doctor recommended occupational therapy.

In hour-long, one-on-one sessions, Huang worked with Hannah to master cutting, handwriting, tying and buttoning through the use of games,exercises and skills training. By the end of 20 weeks, Veronica said she saw big improvements in her daughter's abilities - and her selfconfidence.

"Hannah really liked working with Carla a lot," Veronica said. "They played games; they did exercises. And, Carla always gave us things to work on at home.You could tell that Carla really cared about her."

"I think Hannah and her parents are very pleased with the results," Huang added. "Not only did she improve her fine-motor skills, but she experienced gains in her general coordination, endurance and selfesteem."

For more information, call Ingalls Care Connection at 1.800.221.CARE(2273). Occupational therapy requires a physician referral. In most cases, occupational therapy is covered by insurance.

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