What is Occupational Therapy?
Occupational Therapists work with individuals of all ages and abilities to help them reach their full potential in each area of life. In pediatric occupational therapy we focus on the activities that surround a child’s life: play, social skills, recreational activities, school skills (fine motor development), self-care skills and self-regulation.
Play in Motion Occupational Therapy works with children ages 1 – 18 who need assistance with reaching their developmental milestones. We focus on fine motor skills (upper extremity strength, bilateral coordination, in hand manipulation, dexterity and finger isolation), sensory integration, sensory-based motor dysfunction, feeding concerns and difficulties with written output. Our therapists will work to advocate for your child to have appropriate supports in kindergarten so they can thrive. Not only do we work with families but we also work with the schools for consultation, assessments and program development.
The term fine motor skill refers to the use of the small or fine muscles that control the movements of fingers, hands and wrists. Fine motor skills are developed as the neurological system matures and through time and practice. For some children fine motor skills are easily learned. Art projects, paper/pencil activities and colouring are seen as fun and rewarding activities.
However, for many other children, learning how to colour, hold a pencil, cut with scissors, complete a maze and put together a puzzle can become an overwhelming task. The development of fine motor skills is necessary for learning how to read and to write. It is also important for the functional activities of life such as getting dressed independently (buttons, zippers, lacing). All young children will experience greater success when they are provided with activities that promote the development of fine motor skills.
It’s easy to tell whether your child is a picky eater…..but determining why your child is a picky eater is more difficult. Is there an oral motor delay? Do they have oral and tactile sensory issues? Do they feel nervous to try new food?
A picky eater can be stressful in the house and there is always fear of impaired growth complications and poor nutritional intake. Play in Motion works with children and families to determine the cause of their feeding difficulties, to understand what foods feel safe for your child and why, and to provide therapy sessions to help alleviate challenges around trying new foods.
Sensory processing (sometimes called “sensory integration” or SI) is a term that refers to the way the nervous system receives messages from the senses and turns them into appropriate motor and behavioral responses. Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD, formerly known as “sensory integration dysfunction”) is a condition that exists when these messages from the senses don’t get organized into appropriate responses.
When an individual finds it difficult to process and act upon information received through the senses it can create challenges in performing countless everyday tasks. They may demonstrate motor clumsiness, behavioral problems, anxiety, depression, and academic withdrawal, to name a few. While most of us have occasional difficulties processing sensory information, for children and adults with SPD, these difficulties are chronic, and they disrupt everyday life. Sensory processing difficulties can isolate children from peer groups and decrease self-confidence.
Paediatric Physiotherapy at Play in Motion aims to support children and their families work towards goal-driven outcomes in the areas of mobility, independence and gross motor function. Through one to one therapy sessions we work with children to improve or maintain flexibility, strength, balance and endurance to achieve maximum functional independence. The inclusion of structured play and physical activities is an essential part of a child-specific treatment plan and one of the more challenging aspects of pediatric physiotherapy. We like to have fun here at Play in Motion while working towards successful outcomes. Creating a positive attitude towards physical activity in children can only lead to great things.
We also believe that client education has a vital role to play in physiotherapy. When children and their families have a better understanding of why physical limitations exist and how we specifically hope to address those limitations, we see better outcomes. If you know why a certain activity or exercise has been prescribed and how it is related to your goal, you’re more likely to be motivated to work towards achieving that goal. The same can be said about specific paediatric diagnoses. Children who have an understanding of their body are better prepared to manage their condition for the long term.
Play in Motion physiotherapy provides services to children with a wide range of conditions including neuromuscular, developmental, orthopedic and congenital disorders. We can also support children recovering from injuries and surgery.
Our speech-language pathologists (SLPs) offer consultation, screening, assessment, diagnosis, and treatment for a wide range of communication delays and disorders including: delayed speech and/or language development, speech sound disorders, phonological impairment, and language-based learning disabilities that affect reading and writing.
At Play in Motion, our SLP team focuses on supporting children aged 0-18 who may have difficulty learning language, speaking clearly and being understood by others, or who need support with the foundational language skills necessary for reading, writing and spelling. Our SLP’s work to provide access to communication to those children who may be nonspeaking or who have unreliable speech. Our therapists presume competence, and respect neurodivergent identities by validating and honouring differences in social communication, fluency and/or sensory experiences. SLP’s support families and children with tools to understand the strengths and challenges associated with their disability and place equal emphasis on acceptance, education, and advocating for accommodations in daycares, school and work environments. Our therapists are informed by current research and by self-advocates from the autistic and neurodivergent communities.
Infants and Toddlers
During this early developmental stage, SLPs assess both nonverbal and verbal communication skills such as use of gesture, reciprocal enjoyment, eye gaze, and babbling as indicators for typical language development. Our SLPs provide information on speech and language development and center the caregiver-child relationship during sessions. SLP’s help caregivers learn to “tune in” to their child’s developmental language stage by providing language enhancing strategies that facilitate child-led interactions and opportunities for communication during authentic play.
Preschoolers are becoming more sophisticated communicators, and some children struggle with understanding and using longer and more complex sentences, higher level vocabulary, and story-telling. A number of children may experience difficulties with clearly producing sounds and being understood by others. At this stage, children are also developing more complex social relationships, as well as pre-literacy and kindergarten readiness skills. Our SLPs can provide the necessary assessment to evaluate and treat areas of concern or need, which can lead to improved communications skills, greater self-confidence, and positive academic outcomes.
Speech and language skills are foundational for academic success. Language skills are essential for reading, spelling and learning. In order to read, a child must be able to hear the individual sounds in words, break them apart, and blend them together. Children with language delays often go on to experience difficulty acquiring literacy skills. School-aged children also must develop strong literacy skills both to acquire and demonstrate their knowledge in a variety of subject areas and in accordance with school curricula. Our SLPs can assist students with speech difficulties, strengthen oral and written language skills, and help students to improve their narrative language skills. Our SLPs also work to connect students with neurodivergent peers in order to foster spaces of friendship, empowerment, and self-identity.
Parents may self-refer their child. In addition, referrals for our services come from family doctors, pediatricians, teachers, day care providers, other health professionals. Our SLPs are registered members of the College of Speech and Hearing Professionals of BC (CSHBC).