April 14, 2024
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April 14, 2024
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How to Make Up for Lost Time If Your Child Has Missed Occupational Therapy During COVID

Back in March, schools throughout New Jersey announced they were closing for the remainder of the academic year. And as anyone who has been homeschooling their children for the remainder of the school year will tell you, it’s been tough.

Schools not only give children routine and structure but they also provide occupational therapy (OT) services to their students. Though some New Jersey public and private schools have been able to move forward with their pediatric OT programs using telehealth, some have not been as lucky.

As a result, some children have missed out on OT therapy over the past months. While as parents you may have little knowledge of occupational therapy techniques, fortunately, there are ways you can help your children to get back on track after missing OT.

Fine Motor Skill Techniques You Can Try at Home

Most of our days are taken up by tasks that require different levels of dexterity, and this is no different for children. Moreover, simple tasks such as writing or using a computer all require fine motor skills. Children who develop these skills later may fall behind at school. Herein lies the importance of developing fine motor skills early on.

A good way to develop a child’s fine motor skills is to strengthen their upper extremities, which include shoulders, elbows, hands and fingers.

Here are a few fun techniques you can carry out:

Putting pennies into small slots

Pinching clips

Wheelbarrow walks

Coloring with broken crayons

The last one is particularly good for fine motor skills. And, if a child needs help strengthening his or her upper arms or shoulders, the same exercise can be modified by coloring on a sheet of paper stuck to the wall (just make sure you remember the paper!).

Sensory Activities
You Can Try at Home

In addition to helping children adapt to their day-to-day surroundings, the following sensory experiences can be calming and therapeutic to young children and help them work through their emotions, anxieties and frustrations. These activities are particularly useful for adjusting to life outside the classroom and the current uncertainties.

Parents can help their children tap into sensory play activities by providing them with Play-Doh or kinetic sands. However, there are also items in your kitchen cupboards that’ll work just as well; playing with rice or beans also helps inflame their senses.

Generic Gross Motor Skills Activities

Just like the examples given above, motor-skills games are normally assigned by occupational therapists to a child who can then carry these out at home. Moreover, it’s normally best when an OT knows the child and can give specific instructions that help the individual’s development.

However, when it comes to generic activities that can improve a child’s gross motor skills, the answer is simple: Get kids off their devices and get them moving.

Activities such as running, jump rope and playing basketball and baseball are all great. The most important thing is to get them moving. Of course, there are some challenges presented by this. Access to team sports is currently limited and some outdoor spaces may be unavailable. However, as lockdown eases, there will be more areas open for engaging in play with your children, and a lot of these can be carried out from within your own home.

Parents who are looking to do these sorts of activities with their children should be mindful of how they frame them. As I’m sure you’ll know, children are far more likely to want to engage in what is essentially exercise if it’s presented to them as a fun game, rather than mandatory exercise.

Looking After Yourself In the New Normal

When trying to help your child make up for lost time with OT, while also balancing the stresses and strains that you are no doubt under, it’s really important to look after yourself.

As parents, it’s in our nature to put our child’s needs before our own. However, looking after ourselves shouldn’t be forgotten about or taken for granted.
Children are very perceptive to changes in people’s moods, so taking time to look after yourself and your mental well-being helps not just you, but your children too. So whether that’s through yoga, jogging, mindfulness, meditation or any other activity, try and make the time for it in your busy schedule.

OT Continues on Despite Coronavirus

Children who have been unable to attend their regular occupational therapy sessions during the lockdown have been helped out massively through telehealth services. However, for those who prefer face-to-face sessions, telehealth services are no longer the only option available.

As New Jersey residents can attest to, lockdown restrictions have slowly loosened up throughout the state. This is the same with occupational therapy services. Here at The Therapy Place New Jersey, we estimate that 40% of our clients are opting for OT services to carry on remotely, while 60% have gone back to OT sessions being carried out face-to-face. However, we’re seeing a steady increase in face-to-face sessions as the lockdown is eased.

The bottom line here is even if your child’s occupational therapy services have been unavailable for the past few months, you can still get them back on track over the summer.

Leah Gross is the founder and director of occupational therapy at The Therapy Place New Jersey, a New Jersey-based provider of occupational and speech therapy. Visit https://therapyplacenj.com/.

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