The mind develops at an incredible speed during the first three years of our life, so children who encounter developmental delays in this period are unfortunately set-up for extrapolate;d delays into adulthood. Parents should consider early interventions with an occupational therapist in order to minimize the impact of these delays or help a child overcome them outright.
Early interventions are a critical service occupational therapists offer their community, but too many people instead struggle on their own to help their child live a normal life. By having an occupational therapist engage with parents and determine appropriate times and actions for helpful interventions, children can grow up having a more fulfilling and enriched childhood while deepening their bonds with family.
You can learn more about why occupational therapy early interventions are such a critical area of the healthcare field by reading on.
Developmental Disabilities Don’t Have to Mean Serious Developmental Delays
Children with mental or developmental disabilities are not inherently confined to a life of severe or long-lasting developmental delays. Just like other children, they have an opportunity to learn about their world and how to interact with it in healthy, rewarding ways.
Occupational therapists help parents and family members recognize these learning opportunities and offer actions that can help reinforce learning or improve their ability to process their sensory inputs. These daily interactions can allow a child with delays to adjust and minimize the potential impact into the future.
For example, children who seem to have delays in their ability to pick up and manipulate objects could later suffer in terms of their motor skills and physical fitness. OTs can observe these children in their natural setting to identify moments where muscle coordination and grip can be practiced. By giving children soft, lightweight objects and placing them in a baby walker, for instance, the child can practice gestures needed to lift and move without having to support their core. Parents can also practice exercises where they and their child move objects together, stacking and toppling them.
In this way, OTs give families tools to improve the young child’s learning experiences. What happens between OT sessions will be the most important factor in the family’s success rate. OTs therefore must work as closely with families as they do the child in order to adapt their approach to meet the family’s individual tendencies, values, and culture. Everyone is invited in on helping the child adjust through small yet critical teaching moments, including siblings and extended family.
Funding for Occupational Therapy
Early interventions are funded through programs structured in accordance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Exact funding programs will vary by state, although all are granted through an evaluation and referral process. OT practitioners and clinics can speak with social service departments in their individual state to see if they are eligible for referrals and to accept patients referred by “single point of entry” screening programs.
Providing early interventions can quite literally change lives, helping young children grow, thrive and be happy. If you are interested in exploring career opportunities in OT early intervention jobs, you can see listings and post your resume to find the perfect position where you can make a lasting difference.