Occupational therapy (OT) is, as defined by WITS University, the “therapeutic use of self-care, work, education, play, leisure and social activities to increase independent function, enhance development, promote health and well-being, and prevent disability”.

For children diagnosed with ADD (attention deficit disorder), OT can be used to promote independence in self-care skills (such as dressing or brushing their teeth), organisational skills (such as packing their school bag or keeping their rooms tidy) as well as strategies for dealing with emotional difficulties.

Children with ADD can also benefit from OT in that they receive a lot of sensory stimulation from the activities done in an OT session. The OT session can cover stimulation in all of the senses (touch, sight, hearing and smell). This sensory stimulation can act as a tool to help your child to manage their physical hyperactivity.

An Occupational therapist can also help your child to be more comfortable and active in their social life, as well as their home life. They gain confidence in themselves, and so they have the confidence to build relationships with others. They may also discover other interests in the OT sessions which they can share with others.

Some children with ADD struggle with regulating their emotions. This can become challenging when the child becomes overwhelmed or frustrated at school. An OT can teach your child how to cope with and manage their emotions so that they do not compromise the child’s learning.

All of these skills which are taught in Occupational therapist are very important for children in a school setting. Children who have been diagnosed with ADD are not able to perform all of these skills at once in the school setting, and so the OT sessions assist them with building a routine at school, as well as coping with any emotional difficulties that they are faced with at school.

At Catch Up Kids, we supplement the skills taught by an OT using one on one ABA (applied behaviour analysis) therapy. We teach these skills using seven domains. These seven domains are:

  • Language
  • Social
  • Play- children learn best through play, and so we use play to teach some of the skills in the child’s program. We also encourage peer play so that your child can build relationships, and boost their confidence in social interactions.
  • Adaptive (such as dressing, hygiene skills or chores)
  • Academic- we can give extra practice with school work, and areas of the curriculum which your child struggles with.
  • Executive Functions- we teach your child how to plan ahead, work on their sustained attention, as well as emotional coping.
  • Cognition- we teach your child to have an understanding of others and their beliefs, emotions and intentions.

Reference

Wits University. 2000-2019. Occupational Therapy. https://www.wits.ac.za/course-finder/undergraduate/health/occupational-therapy/. Accessed 22 January 2019.

OT for Children

Occupational therapy is not only adult centred but can play an integral role in the lives of children. OT for children can improve various needs such as cognitive, sensory, physically and motor skills. Modern-day occupational therapy is vastly popular amongst children as their development paves the path and foundation for the rest of their lives. OT can ensure that your child develops the relevant skills needed to succeed and overcome numerous milestones and challenges during their development. Early intervention is always the key; how sooner you as parent act; how less likely your child will battle with any challenges. In this day and age, when children are bombarded with homework and extra-curricular activities, it can be hard to find time for numerous therapies, and it is good to know that a Catch Up Kids program can have all-encompassing benefits on a child’s development as well an increase in skills and academics. OT for children improves and nourishes skills for your child. It focuses on a current problem at hand as well as preventing any problematic behaviour from occurring in near futures. As a parent you would want the best for your child such as great fine motor skills, gross motor skills, processing, and memory and attention skills. The above mentioned is everything a child would need to succeed in mainstream schooling in terms of academics, social, emotional, and physical aspects. OT for children will be able to evaluate school performances, playing and other daily activities, and compare these to what is developmentally acceptable for that certain age group. OT for children also develops programs to provide your child with those skills.  OT for children doesn’t only focus on physical skills; they also focus on psychological, social and environmental factors that can possibly impact your child’s life. Occupational therapy has the tools to develop programs to assist your child in overcoming new challenges. OT for children is a solution for learning difficulties – the approach it follows is unique as it develops programs that can develop fundamental skills. These programs are conducted in fun and interactive ways. Catch up Kids aims to improve a child’s skills by focussing on how that individual learns best. It continues by incorporating this in their respective programs. At Catch up Kids we follow a one on one approach which ensures that your child is receiving quality teaching. Children tend to learn better in a one on one setting and this is what occupational therapy can provide. In this setting your child has great chances of achieving their goals. They can now develop independence and be successful in a setting which is as challenging as a classroom environment.  OT for children is a positive and holistic approach which makes it so much more effective than standard special schools. Catch up Kids will not view your child and the problem; instead they view your child as a total entity and take into account numerous other factors that play a role in their unique identity. How your child plays with other peers, the way he/she thinks and how they go about daily activities all assist in understanding a child.  OT for children is an early intervention which should be taken into account if you want the best for your child’s development.  The positive effects this can have on your child’s wellbeing and happiness are endless. Let Catch Up Kids cater for all your child’s developmental and educational needs.

Why you should consider Catch Up Kids when looking in to Occupational Therapy for Kids

There comes a time where, as parents, you are faced with decisions that will determine the future of your child. And in doing so you will be faced with endless possibilities that can help your child grown beyond your wildest imagination. Amongst these millions of possibilities and courses to enroll your child in, a common topic discussed amongst parents is occupational therapy for kids. What is occupational therapy? How will it benefit your child? How long will your child have to attend occupational therapy for kids? Will you have to go through it alone or are there facilities that work hand in hand with occupational therapists that can assist you? It can be a daunting task to tackle but there is always a way to navigate through it.

A simple explanation of occupational therapy for kids is the act of working with them to ensure that they can achieve all occupations within their life no matter how big or small. An occupational therapist breaks down segments that your child might find challenging and proceeds to help them achieve those aspects with hard work and dedication.

It is important to note that success does not occur overnight and this is where Catch Up Kids comes in to play. Your child might be limited to one or two sessions of occupational therapy for kids during the week whereas Catch Up Kids opens the door to your children being exposed to the necessary skills they need on a daily basis. Catch Up Kids is a brilliant organization that works alongside occupational therapists to ensure that your child is receiving the best treatment there is to offer. Your child will have the opportunity to explore their occupations and address them with full confidence. Catch Up kids consists of dedicated teams assigned to your children with sessions that run in a one on one setting. Not only does your child get to engage with their occupational therapist one or twice a week, but now has the added benefit of engaging with a dedicated team on a weekly basis. The supervisors of the teams are in constant communication with the occupational therapists chosen by you to ensure that they are working hand in hand to assist your child. In addition to that, there is the possibility that our teams could pick up on finer details while working with your child that occupational therapy for kids might not. This is one of many testaments as to why considering Catch Up Kids for your child is the best decision you could make in terms of securing a better future for your child.

Catch Up Kids is a one of a kind organization that has an open-door policy to ensure that you as parents are always in the know when it comes to your child’s progress and possible setbacks. Parents have the opportunity to have a direct line of communication with the supervisor and team members to ensure that progress is being made with your child’s program. In addition to that, meetings can be set up with your child’s team with you and your child present. This allows parents to have a front row seat as to how sessions are run with their child. You will have the comfort and confidence of knowing exactly what your child will be learning during their time at Catch Up Kids.

In conclusion, there are many possibilities that you could choose from but it is guaranteed that you will not find a more inclusive and well-rounded experience when it comes to considering occupational therapy for kids and facilities such as Catch Up Kids that can help you go above and beyond in ensuring a better future for your child.

Occupational Therapy for children

What is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational therapy more commonly known as ‘OT’ is a form of therapy that aims to better develop a wide range of skills in children with developmental difficulties or academic challenges. The occupational therapy delineation model focuses on a child’s environment, specifically the physical, social and cultural environments (Chu & Reynolds, 2007).  Therapists consider a wide range of environmental influences when developing programs that are child specific after evaluations take place, such as classroom size, home environment, and family dynamics. Cultural beliefs and parenting styles play a huge role in a multicultural dynamic society such as South Africa, therapists carefully create programs that have realistic goals, include families in outcomes and provide an appropriate level of learning in order to stimulate a child (Chu & Reynolds, 2007).

How do I know what type of intervention my child may need?

In an evaluation there are three levels of function that are considered when using occupational therapy for children. The first is neurological and physiological, occupational therapists take into consideration how genetics may contribute to specific difficulties such as sensory modulation and hypo arousal (Chu & Reynolds, 2007). The second level of function is psychological mainly focusing on the executive function domain which enables children to sustain attention, display impulse control and inhibition. Motor control also plays a role. Lastly behaviour is considered as a third level of function, common difficulties include inattentiveness, hyperactivity, impulsivity, poor emotional regulation and social skills (Chu & Reynolds, 2007).

How will Catch Up Kids help my child?

Occupational therapy for children is a helpful adjunctive to Catch Up Kids, it is seen as a collaborative in which Catch Up Kids work with occupational therapists to better facilitate and provide consistency in day to day activities and routines. Occupational therapy for children focuses on sensory integrated therapy, providing a sensory diet (meaning having either activities or toys available to give a child the sensory stimulation or input they need in order to manage behaviour and allow for self regulation. Catch Up Kids has increased facilitation hours to carry over occupational therapy goals for children, this can be done in a school or home environment. Catch Up Kids work in collaborations with both local and international schools, from day to day classroom activities, to facilitation in sensory rooms in learning support departments.

Catch Up Kids additionally focuses on Play Skills, Executive Function Skills, Cognitive Skills, Adaptive Skills and Academic Skills, each program is designed to be child specific with a special focus on learning outcomes designed to enable independence and self regulation in children, in both their home, academic and social environments. Occupational therapy for children works in hand-in-hand with their Catch Up Kids program making individual learning programs and modification to ensure success.

Occupational Therapist for Kids

When you hear that your child might need an occupational therapist, it can raise some questions. What is an occupational therapist for kids, and how will they help my child?

What is an occupational therapist for kids?

An occupational therapist for kids is someone who has completed a 4 year degree, and is registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA). Their role is to enable kids to participate in everyday activities, by enhancing their ability to join in, or by modifying the environment to better support participation, with the aim of empowering the child to become as independent as possible in all areas of their lives.

What does an occupational therapist for kids do?

An occupational therapist for kids will work on several domains of development, including cognitive skills, perceptual skills, sensory-processing deficits and fine and gross motor development. They will also address social and psychological factors that may affect the child’s functioning.

An occupational therapist takes a holistic approach to therapy, meaning that they view the child as a whole individual with their own likes, dislikes and abilities, and therefore the therapy session will be tailored to the child and the needs of that particular child. Therapy is usually fun and motivating, as occupational therapists use play as a tool to achieve their goals.

The amount of therapy the child needs will depend on the specific needs of the child and the frequency of therapy. It is important to remember that effective therapy is team work, and that parents, child and therapist are all part of that team.

Examples of the work occupational therapists for kids do include, but are not limited to: working on fine motor skills so they can grasp toys; improving hand-eye coordination; evaluating the child’s need for specialized equipment; addressing behavioural disorders in a constructive manner.

Who needs an occupational therapist?

A child might need an occupational therapist for a variety of different reasons, including:

  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • ADD/ADHD
  • Developmental delays
  • Broken bones or other orthopaedic injuries
  • Cancer
  • Behavioural problems
  • Learning delays
  • Sensory processing disorders
  • Birth defects
  • Hand injuries
  • Multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy and other chronic illnesses.

Where can I find an occupational therapist for kids?

All occupational therapists have to be registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA), and will have a registration number that is freely accessible to you. Many schools have an occupational therapist associated with the school. However, if this is not the case, you can ask your family doctor for a reference. There are also many occupational therapists that are part of a private practice.

An alternative is to get in touch with Catch Up Kids, the benefit of which is access to a comprehensive curriculum which covers skills in the areas of academics, adaptive skills, cognition/perspective-taking skills, executive functions, language, motor, play and social skills.

What is O.T.?

Occupational therapy is the particular use of certain activities in order to aid and recuperate meaningful skills in an individual. O.T. aims to assist people in their cognitive, physical and sensory abilities with ensuring they are as independent as possible in these areas. The beginning stages of O.T. will consist of an evaluation of the person’s current skills, goal and abilities and then it will determine goals and expected outcomes for the individual. Once O.T. sessions have begun, an outcomes evaluation will be done to ensure the individual is meeting the set goals.

 

How does O.T. benefit you?

O.T. benefits an individual by assisting them with developing and maintaining a set of necessary skills for functionality. O.T. creates functionality in both the home and schooling environment. One of the many benefits to O.T. is that it benefits people of all ages and not only children. O.T. is beneficial for all skills both simple and complex from everyday skills such as independent grooming and dressing to fine motor skills such has handwriting, colouring and cutting with scissors. O.T. is also beneficial for it’s one on one approach.  A few reasons why the one on one approach is beneficial are: the class will not go on without the student understanding, it tends to be less stressful for the learner as they may feel like a failure in front of other students, eliminates distractions and increases attention etc.

What we do at Catch Up Kids.

We, at Catch Up Kids will build onto and maintain a child’s set of skills in order for them to cope within a mainstream schooling environment as well as in their normal day to day routine. We work on aspects such as issues with attention, coping emotionally, time management and social skills! We also assess where your child is currently versus where we want them to be. Once the assessment is complete and sessions have begun. We then schedule monthly workshops with the parents and instructors to discuss current progress and new goals!

How Catch Up Kids works with O.T concepts and how it will benefit your child.

 

Catch Up Kids works with many of the same concepts that an O.T would use! Firstly, we work on the one on one approach ensuring that your child will be able to keep up and have the support they need. We also strive to maintain the individual’s set of skills to assist with functionality. We assist your child with problem solving, fine motor skills, gross motor skills as well as any academic issues they may have! The added benefit of Catch Up Kids is that its comprehensive curriculum covers skills in the areas of academics, adaptive skill, cognition/perspective-taking skills, executive functions, language, motor, play, and social skills.

Treatment for slow learners

Every child in a class learns at a different rate, but the difficulty of the mainstream schooling system is that children are required to learn at the pace that the teacher teaches. The teacher must keep pace in order to fulfil the requirements for the year, despite galas, talks, casual days, and many other events that can disrupt or take away from focused teaching time. As a result of this, some children are able to keep up, and others are classified as “slow learners”. There also may be legitimate learning difficulties, attention difficulties, or socio-emotional difficulties that cause a child to actually learn more slowly than his/her peers. Treatment for slow learners, in all forms, is available  at Catch Up Kids. Catch Up Kids conducts a school observation if possible, to determine what environmental factors are playing a role in the child being classified as a slow learner, to get a feel for the pace of learning required at the school and the teacher’s teaching style, and to evaluate the way that the child learns and the factors influencing his/her rate of learning. A thorough review of school reports and reports from other professionals who have been involved in the child’s journey to that point (including speech and occupational therapists) is also conducted to give background information on what has led to the child requiring Catch Up Kids services. An assessment is then conducted to put the finishing touches on the treatment plan and introduce the child to his/her Catch Up Kids team. The method of instruction used as treatment for slow learners at Catch Up Kids is Applied Behaviour Analysis. This is a research-based method of intervention and is complemented by our broad curriculum which equips us to effectively treat issues related to emotional self-regulation, behavioural outbursts, social interaction difficulties, fine motor difficulties, planning difficulties, attention difficulties, sensory difficulties, and many other problems that typically contribute to children needing treatment for slow learners. Catch Up Kids provides a highly collaborative and cohesive treatment solution. If the situation requires, we can draw up and monitor progress using an Individualised Education Plan (IEP) and/or meet with parents and teachers on a monthly basis. Feedback is provided to the parents daily in the form of a WhatsApp group update, and approximately every two weeks in the form of a report from the case supervisor. Constant data-taking means that the parents receive regular and concrete measures of progress, and that the case supervisor has the information he/she needs to determine whether the child is achieving the best possible rate of progress, and make adjustments to the programme if he/she is not. This dynamic approach sets us apart from other methods of treatment for slow learners.

Helping slow learners

Helping slow learners is a priority for Catch Up Kids.  At Catch Up Kids, helping slow learners is addressed by focusing on developing emotional coping, attention planning, inhibition, memory, flexibility, self-monitoring time management, metacognition, problem solving and social skills.

The process that is followed by Catch Up Kids for slow learners can be utilized by learners who are falling behind, children attending remedial school or bridging classes and play school learners who are struggling to keep up.  At Catch Up Kids we believe that by supporting and helping learners to develop self-regulating and monitoring procedures and to develop strategies to aid them in their academics, they can complete a curriculum in the expected time frame.  Helping  learners can seem like a daunting task, but at Catch Up Kids, we believe it is very possible.

At Catch Up Kids, helping slow learners does not follow the process of a tutor doing the work at a fast pace with the child next to them trying desperately to follow.  Rather, at Catch Up Kids, helping slow learners is believed to be best achieved by equipping and helping slow learners to develop strategies that will empower the learner to excel academically and catch up with their peers.

Helping slow learners at Catch Up Kids is achieved by having a unique and individualized programme developed by a Catch Up supervisor.  This is done once extensive research has been completed by meeting up with the parents to discuss the difficulties faced by the child and by observing the child in his or her school environment.  Helping learners at Catch Up Kids is therefore an individualized process specifically tailored and then facilitated by trained individuals who will ensure that their needs are met.  The process at Catch Up Kids is aimed at producing confident, efficient and empowered learners who have been equipped with all the necessary skills they need to, not only keep up, but succeed in achieving academic demands.

The aim of helping slow learners at Catch Up Kids is to assist in accelerating your child’s learning capabilities.  We want to aid in the process of helping slow learners to become classroom experts while aiming to improve academic performance.

Helping slow learners at Catch Up Kids is a process of empowerment which strengthens the areas of weakness as well as their strengths in order to move to a state of independence.  It is a carefully monitored process which aims to help slow learners in the most effective way possible.  The programme is constantly modified and updated in workshops so that the process of helping slow learners at Catch Up Kids is always building on improvement of skills, academic understanding and success.

Children Learning Difficulty

A range of terms are often used to refer to children learning difficulty such as ‘intellectual disability’ and ‘learning disability’.

Children learning difficulty affect the cognitive processes related to learning and are thought to be due to variations in brain structure and function.

Students with learning disabilities have average to above average intelligence and potential but experience difficulty processing information that affects learning. Although they may experience unexpected academic underachievement compared to their intellectual ability, they can still experience academic success.

When referring to ‘children learning difficulty’, the following neuro-developmental processes are affected: acquisition, organisation, retention, understanding, or use of verbal or non-verbal information including:

  • oral language (e.g., listening, speaking, understanding);
  • reading (e.g., decoding, phonetic knowledge, word recognition, comprehension);
  • written language (e.g., spelling and written expression);
  • mathematics (e.g., computation, problem solving);
  • social skills (e.g., social perception, social interaction, perspective taking);
  • organisational abilities.

At Catch Up Kids we address children learning difficulty issues such as emotional coping, attention, planning, inhibition, memory, flexibility, self monitoring, time management, meta-cognition, problem solving, social skills and more.

Each child is assigned a Catch Up Supervisor, an expert on children learning difficulty, which includes an experienced team of tutors who work together with the Supervisor to meet the child’s individual needs. The Supervisor will meet with the school to do an in-classroom observation of the child to assess his / her academic, social, cognitive and executive functioning skills. The classroom environment is also taken into account because of the impact it could have on the child’s learning. Observations regarding the classroom environment could include: seating arrangement, seating location, acoustics, visual distractors, temperature, noise to name a few.

Once assessments and observations have been completed the Supervisor will design an individual education programme to fit the needs of the child. Meetings, workshops and observations will occur regularly to assess progress and make changes as the child masters certain skills.

The Catch Up team consists of professionals who will be allocated to a child and provide 1 on 1 sessions depending on the child’s specific programme.

Our Catch Up professionals receive exemplar instructional skills from our Catch Up trainers. They are empowered to create the dynamic and rewarding learning experiences that fundamentally transform our student’s academic aptitudes and overall cognitive abilities.

The Catch Up team looks at the ‘whole’ child and therefore considers all aspects of development when working with children learning difficulty issues. We also look at how the child’s confidence and self-esteem affects his / her learning. We focus on children learning difficulty questions for example, “what motivates him / her?”, “what reinforcement opportunities are available at school?”, “what learning strategies are already in place at school and how can we work with the teacher to consistently implement these strategies successfully?” or “how can I as the teacher or catch up co-ordinator follow through with demands when non-compliance occurs?”

Occupational Therapy

What is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational therapy is largely defined as a therapeutic, rehabilitative and educational approach and regard the person, their parents and other people such as tutors, caregivers or other members of their lives as meaningful participants in the development of an appropriate intervention plan.

Similarities and differences between Catch Up Kids and Occupational Therapy:

At Catch Up Kids, we largely support the view of Occupational Therapy and also the participants being a meaningful and integral part of the development of an intervention plan, as brought forward by Occupational Therapy, although, your highly skilled and trained team are also equipped with the knowledge of pivotal areas of development, such as, Motor Development, Executive Functioning Skills Development, Social Development, Cognitive Development and Academic Development.

Sessions at Catch Up Kids, as a session with Occupational Therapy session would be, is a one-on-one session with your child, to aid and assist in areas that are needed for successful and meaningful learning in school and also in other settings, such as socialization and play.

Occupational Therapy and Catch Up Kids, share the share methods of teaching, according to the 8 areas of human functioning, although, Catch Up Kids offer a more intensive intervention schedule, as it is evident in a large amount of research that increased hours of intervention, yield more positive outcomes.

As per our experience and collaboration with the Occupational Therapy domain, sessions may range and vary in intensity, but are most commonly scheduled for up to once or twice a week and no longer than 1 hour sessions. At Catch Up Kids, it is recommended that your child attend a minimum of 6 hours per week, at Catch Up Kids, to ensure that we are providing opportunities, not only for intensive intervention, but sessions that allow your child to learn and absorb what they need assistance with, all the while, using activities from techniques such as Natural Environmental Training and motivational techniques, to ensure your child feels successful and enjoys their session with us.

In an Occupational Therapy evaluation, for children who require more assistance in the areas of human functioning, evaluations are done across similar, if not the same domains as we would at Catch Up Kids, ensuring to understand the challenges and priority areas for the client and parents, for example, at Catch Up Kids, we would largely evaluate areas and include these into your child’s tailor made program:

  • Self-Care Targets, also known as adaptive skills which include, but are not limited to, personal hygiene tasks, eating, dressing skills and so forth. We also provide in depth teaching strategies of breaking down more complex tasks into smaller steps, to teach one skill set at a time, to master the broad mastery of the skill
  • Executive Functioning Skills: Improve your child’s ability to emotionally regulate themselves, to meet the demands of the ever-increasing Academic Environment, planning and organizational skills, self-monitoring techniques to increase your child’s ability to monitor their ow performance, memory skills, which are broken down into multiple subsets, such as auditory memory, working memory etc
  • Academic Skills: Ability to understand concepts taught at school, by breaking skill sets down into prerequisite skills for these tasks, handwriting and penmanship and other areas that fall within this domain
  • Play Skills: Using the strengths of your child to develop meaningful play skills, independent play skills and incorporating language skills into the play domain
  • Social Skills: Evaluating and developing these skills so your child is better able to resolve conflict, understand collaboration of social partners and incorporate skills from both the language and play domain, to foster positive social interactions

Environmental Adaptions and Modifications that are used by Catch Up Kids and Occupational Therapy:

As Catch Up Kids is an individualised tutoring establishment, we are able to modify the environment and ensure that we are teaching assistive techniques as you would in Occupational Therapy, to support a large amount of learning needs and skill acquisition, such as:

  • Modifying tasks: This could include, breaking the tasks down into smaller segments, with the end goals of increasing understanding and sustained attention systematically, adapting the instructions of tasks or using visual modifications to aid with the learning and mastery of skills
  • Adaption of the environment: As each child has their own workspace, we are able to modify their environment to build up on skills such as sustained attention and slowly integrate and adapt this environment to resemble the classroom set up, including distractions, but not before we ensure prerequisite skills are taught in the Executive Functioning Domain, to promote success of this
  • Individualised Educational Plans (IEP): These are to be designed and set forth by the Catch Up Co-ordinator and the school, to closely monitor your child’s progress and ensure that goals that are set are measurable and attainable and that they are not stagnant, i.e. upon mastery of one goal, identifying and addressing another goal in its place

Occupational Therapy has proved effective, when implementing their techniques, with regard to children who need assistance at school. As mentioned, Catch Up Kids, with its’ skilled team members, which consist of a Catch Up Co-Ordinator (Program Designer) and Catch Up Team, has had much success in tutoring children with a variety of needs as the program entails increased, consistent intervention, monthly team meetings / workshops, meetings with schools, parent training and so forth, to ensure goals are met and all domains are considered in the education and intervention of your child.

Written by: Amber Brooke – Smith