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Occupational therapist for children

25 February 2023

As a parent, you want to ensure that your child receives the best possible care for their development and well-being. If your child is facing challenges related to their motor skills, cognitive abilities, or daily living skills, you may consider seeking the help of an occupational therapist. In this blog post, we will explore what an occupational therapist is, why your child might see an occupational therapist, and what to expect during the assessment and treatment process.

What is an Occupational Therapist?

An occupational therapist (OT) is a trained health professional who works with individuals to improve their ability to carry out daily living activities. OTs use a variety of techniques and interventions to support children's participation in everyday activities, such as dressing, eating, playing, and socializing. OTs work with children who have various physical, cognitive, sensory, or emotional challenges, including autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, developmental delays, and more.

Why Your Child Might See an Occupational Therapist

Your child may see an occupational therapist if they are facing difficulties in performing daily living activities, such as:

  • Dressing, grooming, and self-care
  • Playing and leisure activities
  • School-related tasks, such as handwriting and organization
  • Socializing and interacting with peers
  • Sensory processing, such as over-responsiveness or under-responsiveness to sensory input
  • Coordination, motor planning, and balance
  • Attention and concentration

How to Get a Referral to an Occupational Therapist

You can get a referral to an occupational therapist from your child's GP or pediatrician. You may also ask for a referral from your child's school, psychologist, or speech therapist, as they often work closely with occupational therapists.

Before You See an Occupational Therapist

Before your child sees an occupational therapist, you may consider:

  • Observing your child's daily activities and taking notes on any areas of concern or challenges they face.
  • Collecting any medical or developmental history related to your child's challenges.
  • Preparing a list of questions to ask the occupational therapist, such as their qualifications, experience, and treatment approach.
  • Informing your child about the upcoming appointment and reassuring them that the occupational therapist is there to help them.

What to Expect During the Assessment and Treatment Process?

During the initial assessment, the occupational therapist will conduct a comprehensive evaluation of your child's abilities, strengths, challenges, and goals. They may use various assessment tools, such as standardized tests, clinical observations, interviews, and questionnaires.

Based on the assessment results, the occupational therapist will develop a customized treatment plan that aims to support your child's abilities and address their challenges. Treatment may involve various interventions, such as:

  • Sensory integration therapy
  • Motor skills training
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Play therapy
  • Assistive technology
  • Environmental modifications
  • Parent education and support

The occupational therapist may also collaborate with other professionals involved in your child's care, such as speech therapists, physiotherapists, and psychologists, to ensure a holistic and coordinated approach.

What Financial Support is Available in Australia to See an Occupational Therapist?

In Australia, occupational therapy services are covered under Medicare, which is Australia's national public health insurance scheme. To access Medicare benefits, you will need a referral from your child's GP or pediatrician. The Medicare benefits will cover a portion of the cost of the occupational therapy services, and you may need to pay an out-of-pocket expense, depending on the specific item number associated with the services.

If your child has a chronic medical condition or complex care needs, they may also be eligible for additional financial support through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). The NDIS provides funding for services and supports related to your child's disability or medical condition, including occupational therapy services.

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