How Occupational Therapists Can Help Children With ADHD
You may not realise it, but Occupational Therapy and ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) go hand in hand. Occupational therapy isn’t there to cure ADHD or prescribe medications. What occupational therapy will do is provide effective management tools for children to succeed and be happy in everyday life.
ADHD affects around 1 in 20 children in Australia. It’s found to be more common in boys but the reason is unknown. Many children diagnosed with ADHD outgrow the symptoms as they reach adulthood, but some can continue to display them past their adolescent years.
Children’s Occupational Therapists are trained to work with children diagnosed with ADHD and work toward strategies that can help manage the condition.
Such strategies can include:
- Organisational programs and routines
- Development of fine motor skills
- Building independence in everyday tasks
- Learning self coping strategies
Organisation and routines.
Children with ADHD symptoms react positively to set routines and the planning of small achievable tasks. Knowing when to start a task or even seeing a set routine in place can help reduce overwhelm and uncertainty, which are strong feelings in children with ADHD. Routines are best kept simple and attainable so they can feel a sense of achievement which in turn builds confidence.
Your occupational therapist will be able to assist with creating schedules specific to your child and your family’s needs.
Development of fine motor skills.
Fine motor skills are defined as the ability to be able to coordinate the small muscles of the hands and fingers with the eyes in order to perform tasks. This can include holding a pencil, their ability to be able to draw and color in or even the coordination to catch a ball or play sport. Children with ADHD can exhibit less defined motor skills than other children. This can delay their development and hinder their confidence in performing certain tasks.
A child occupational therapist will work with your child to build their fine motor skills. This is generally done through play, which children love and respond positively to. Games that involve coordinating small pieces such as lego blocks are great for building fine motor skills and imaginations.
Building their independence.
Children who have confidence in their own abilities are keen to continue learning and developing. Simple tasks like packing their own school bag or being able to complete a math problem on their own help to build this confidence. Your occupational therapist will be able to identify age-appropriate tasks that your child can do that will grow positivity. As they master each task, they will be keen to continue learning new things and grow in confidence each day.
One of the most important things in managing ADHD is teaching your child self-coping strategies. Children can lose it over seemingly small things. This is normal behaviour as they learn to build coping strategies and acceptance that they can’t always control their environment. Children diagnosed with ADHD may do this more often than not. There will be times when you, as their parent, can’t always be there to calm them. It’s helpful for children to identify where they are at emotionally to be able to regulate their feelings in order to cope. Through identifying what they are feeling, your occupational therapist will give your child mechanisms to cope and strategies to help move them back into a calming zone.
Engaging an occupational therapist to work with your child will help them build confidence in school, family life, and relationships.
If your child has just been diagnosed with ADHD or you’re concerned about their development, please feel free to contact us for an obligation-free chat. We’re here to help.