If your child is enrolled in a therapeutic preschool program, they are working on building key developmental skills, such as speech and language, with a team of highly skilled professionals. As a parent, it is important to be involved in the therapeutic process and be familiar with each of the therapists on the team of professionals. If your child requires additional support with motor skills and sensory concerns, a pediatric occupational therapist (OT) may be a part of the team in the therapeutic preschool program. If you are new to the program, you may not be familiar with the role of an occupational therapist or their professional training, so we want to walk you through some of the basics.
While occupational therapists may work with patients ranging from newborns to elderly adults, a pediatric occupational therapists specializes in services for young children. An occupational therapist works with patients to improve their abilities to complete daily occupations (or activities). For a pediatric occupational therapist, this may mean working with a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who has sensory processing issues or a child with cerebral palsy for muscle strength and coordination.
In addition to working in a therapeutic preschool setting, a pediatric occupational therapist can also work in a hospital, clinic, private practice, school, or other settings to provide services. Their patients may also have a wide range of abilities and needs, so occupational therapists receive extensive schooling and training prior to working with patients. An occupational therapist is required to earn both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree and earn licensure in the field.
Your child might benefit from services with a pediatric occupational therapist in a therapeutic preschool program if they experience delays in fine or gross motor skill development or have sensory processing issues. A pediatric OT might facilitate activities and exercises to improve fine motor skills, such as coloring or playing with Legos. To improve gross motor skills, they might initiate activities, such as climbing on sensory gym equipment or playing hopscotch. Depending on the sensory concerns of a child, there are many different exercises that pediatric occupational therapists can use to improve sensory processing skills.
One-on-one attention from a pediatric occupational therapist during a therapeutic preschool program might be enough support for some children. If you still feel that your child could benefit from additional OT services, it may be helpful to speak with their teacher and explore more therapy (outside of the school program).
At CST Academy, we have a fully licensed pediatric occupational therapist on staff to work with children who can benefit from OT services. Do you think your child could be a good fit in this type of program? Contact us at 773-620-7800 to learn more about our program and request additional information.