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ADHD in Children Health Center

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Occupational Therapy for Children With ADHD

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

  • Organization
  • Physical coordination
  • Ability to do everyday tasks -- such as take a shower, organize their backpack, or make their bed -- quickly and well
  • Control their “energy” levels, hyperactivity, etc.

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

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

How to Find an Occupational Therapist

You can check with the American Occupational Therapy Association to find a qualified OT in your area. Or you can check with local hospitals. Your child's doctor will often have a list of good OTs near you, too.

When you're in the process of picking an occupational therapist, 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 OT you choose should focus on your child's needs and listen to your concerns. Make sure you're comfortable with the therapist you pick.

The Occupational Therapy Session

The first thing the therapist does is evaluate your child. They usually do this 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
  • Home life

The OT will also do a test to find out your child's strengths and weaknesses. Then they'll recommend ways to address his 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 like brushing teeth, getting dressed, or feeding himself.
  • Try techniques to improve focus.
  • Practice handwriting.
  • Go over social skills.
  • Work on time management.
  • Set up ways to stay organized in the classroom and at home.
  • Come up with an analogy that helps your child understand hyperactivity and how to keep it in check. For example, a “hot engine/cold engine” analogy and how to cool a hot engine down.

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