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ADHD in Children Health Center

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Occupational Therapy for Children With ADHD

ADHD can affect almost every part of a child's life. It's harder for kids with ADHD to do things like:

  • Focus in school
  • Take tests
  • Do homework
  • Get along with their peers

Even everyday tasks, like getting dressed or doing chores, can become more difficult.

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Medicine and therapy can help kids with ADHD keep up in school and control their problem behaviors. Yet these treatments may not cover every issue.

Taking a pill won't necessarily help kids take a shower, organize their backpack, or make their bed.

For help with everyday skills, as well as inattention and other ADHD behaviors, you might want to get help for your child from an occupational therapist.

What Is an Occupational Therapist?

An occupational therapist or "OT" helps kids with ADHD improve certain skills such as:

  • Organization
  • Physical coordination
  • Efficiency in everyday tasks

Occupational therapists typically have a master's degree. They are certified in their field and licensed in the state where they practice.

An occupational therapist might work in a hospital, clinic, or private practice. Some occupational therapists are based at a school.

How to Find an Occupational Therapist

To find a qualified occupational therapist in your area, you can check with the American Occupational Therapy Association. Or you can call a hospital in your area that offers occupational therapy.

Frequently your child's doctor will have a list of good OTs in your area.

When you're in the process of picking an OT, ask these questions:

  • What kind of training do you have?
  • Are you certified and licensed to practice in this state?
  • Are you specifically trained in pediatric occupational therapy or just OT?
  • How much experience do you have working with kids who have ADHD?
  • How will you evaluate my child?
  • What treatment goals do you recommend?
  • What types of therapy will your program involve?

The occupational therapist you choose should focus on your child's needs and listen to your concerns. Make sure you're comfortable with the therapist before you start the evaluation process.

The Occupational Therapy Session

The first thing the therapist does is evaluate your child. This is usually done with input from you and your child's teachers.

During the evaluation, the therapist will look at how ADHD affects your child's:

  • Schoolwork
  • Social life
  • Ability to function at home

The OT will also perform a standardized assessment to check into your child's strengths and weaknesses.

Then the therapist will recommend strategies to address these issues.

During a therapy session, the occupational therapist and your child might:

  • Play games such as catching or hitting a ball to improve coordination
  • Do activities to work out anger and aggression
  • Learn new ways to do daily tasks such as brushing teeth, getting dressed, or self-feeding
  • Try techniques to improve focus
  • Practice handwriting
  • Go over social skills
  • Work on time management
  • Create organizational systems for the classroom and home

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