So if you are like me, have not had children before and you are new to the parent world too, then you may have your own first child about to attend Occupational Therapy. I can reassure you if you do have any worries, there is no need. They are really great way to help your child’s development.
You may have heard of Occupational Therapy and associated it with the older generation, but they also provide these sessions to babies and children too, for free in the UK. If you feel your child will benefit from these sessions speak to your local Health Clinic or Doctor for advice.
All children develop at different stages, some can walk before they can talk and others can talk before they can walk. These classes are to encourage the power of speech using different activities. The sessions only go on for about 45 minutes and in Henry’s sessions they have two other children and no more.
It is very interesting to see how children are so different. There is one little boy who is into everything and as soon as he sees a toy he wants, it is very difficult to distract him, then there is another little boy does and follows wherever he is told to go, but does not say anything unless he is really pushed too, and even then it is very quiet.
With Henry he is still understanding words. We talk (my husband and I) to Henry all the time, and he is picking up a lot of words now, but I can see he can still be a bit puzzled as to understanding what the other person is saying.
Henry learns by observing a lot, like many children, and when he sees another child doing something he straight away will try and copy.
So I see him watching the other children and then I see him working out what he has to do. Or what the occupational therapist is trying to say.
See below a video which is an example of an Occupational Therapy Trust in Greenwich.
At the beginning of the session: Every child is encouraged to take of their shoes and socks
Then occupational therapist encourages them to sing the greeting song “Hello (Child’s name” for the child to say Hello.
They have to sit on a coloured dot or a bubble cushion.
Middle of the session: Playing different activities which includes a theme, last week it was different fruit and vegetables, which they had to pick up and put down, then put back into the basket.
They again sang a song to encourage these skills.
We all then moved to playing at the table and each child is given and object or a piece of paper. The first session the children had a clowns face and they stuck cut out pieces of paper onto the clowns face.
Then they each get a toy to choose. Every child gets a turn twice each.
At the end of the session: They do an assort course and then are encouraged to put their shoes and socks back on and sing the end of session song, again to encourage them to say goodbye.
Once the session is over we (the parents and guardians) are given homework to do, to help continue on what they had learned in the Occupational Sessions, last week it was various activities involving fruit and vegetables. Playing shops. Getting the children to point out a fruit and vegetable or pick them up.
These have been an education to me aswell, being the parent and I had no idea there was a different type of signing you can do aswell to help encourage a child’s speech. Speaking to my mum about it, a friend whom is a childminder does this too.
See this video which shows examples of signing you can do to help encourage your child to talk with the skill of their hands.
Games I invent at home to help Henry’s Development
We often play a game, called “Where’s Spongebob”. basically we hide his cuddly toy SpongeBob and Henry will go and find him. As he gets nearer we say if he is getting colder or warmer. Giving a clue or providing encouragement really helps him to stay focused on the game, as they can quickly lose interest.
It is a great game as it teaches them to use their site for observation and make decisions. Thinking is a great way to get their mind active and using the right tools to complete tasks. This hand in hand will help them in the future too.
You can do this game with any cuddly toy. Pick one they always play with regularly and put in a box or on the sofa with a blanket over the top and say “Where is SpongeBob?” for example and encourage them to find it, and look every where. It is good if you look like you are looking for it too.
The other games we play is if I see a Rainbow and train, I will say Henry there’s the train, or there’s a rainbow and point, great at grabbing their attention and learning what they are interested in. Then you can use that to help build their skills more. Show them pictures and encourage them to say what it is they see. Get them to make choices of items. Not too many as they can easily get overwhelmed, but for example I will get two boxes of variety cereal, show him and say “Which one the one with the tiger or the one with the monkey picture on it”. It is great way to help them identify pictures and make associations with words.
Now I am off because my son now wants play time so we are going to have that time.
I would recommend Occupational Therapy as it is a weight off your shoulders too. We always think as parents we should know how to help our children’s development, but why should we? We aren’t robots who are programmed but living creatures who go on what we think is right most of the time, and question ourselves, but getting that expert help can make all the difference.
Many thanks for reading,