Occupational Therapy for ADHD

To understand the wonderful benefits occupational therapy can provide for children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, occupational therapy needs to be understood. Occupational therapy for ADHD is a specialised healthcare profession that uses remedial strategies to benefit all aspects of the child’s life. The occupational therapist will use every-day activities or exercises to improve the coordination, concentration, organisation, gross motor skills (the involvement of the whole body), fine motor skills (small movements of the hands, fingers, and toes), visual-perceptual skills (the process essential in teaching the child to learn how to write), sensory processing problems, and logical-thinking skills of the person inflicted with a disorder such as ADHD, which is defined by a deficit in these skills. There is no cure for ADHD, but occupational therapy can reduce the severity and frequency of the child’s ADHD symptoms and provide an improved quality of life for both the child, and their loved ones. 

The core skills of occupational therapy are: 

  • Occupations: In the context of occupational therapy, occupation refers to the skills needed for daily living, such as sleep schedules, as well as education schedules and organisation skills needed to learn. 
  • Contexts: This is the understanding of the child’s environmental and personal factors to understand how to help them best, and which skills to specifically work on. 
  • Performance patterns: These patterns refer to the habits, retunes, rituals, and roles of the child and use this information, along with the child’s potential, to create a lifestyle in which the child can function in the way that works for them. 
  • Performance skills: Performance skills are skills relating to physical performance (both gross and fine motor skills), but this also relates to social and interaction skills. This can teach the child things such as emotional regulation, a communication of their needs, how to express their emotions in a functional way, and how to feel confident in their individual abilities. 

When a child receives assistance with various skill that they find difficult, they are being shown that with time, practice, and dedication, they can perform at levels that indicate their personal best. Occupational therapy is also a very effective tool in managing various negative behaviours that are associated with both autism and ADHD, with some of these behaviours being tantrums, yelling, ignoring commands, and demanding things. Often, when a child is taught the abovementioned skills, they experience much less frustration and overwhelm in their daily lives, which results in a happier, calmer overall mood. 

It takes all types of different team members to help a child become the best version of themselves they can be, and this is why occupational therapy is such an important part of the child’s learning process. The better they are understood, known, and helped!

Article by: A. Pascoe (2023)