Every child deserves to navigate the world and live as fully as possible. When children are affected by a health condition, disorder or injury, they may need occupational therapy to learn or adapt skills that help them achieve these goals.
At Riley at IU Health, our occupational therapists work with kids to help them function at their best, whether they are recovering from an injury that will eventually heal or managing an ongoing condition.
When your child is referred to Riley at IU Health for occupational therapy, we begin a partnership with you and your child to make sure therapy brings your family the outcomes you value most.
Our therapists design patient-focused plans that consider every aspect of your child’s well-being. Rather than focusing only on a diagnosis, our multidisciplinary team treats your child as a dynamic person—someone who plays, learns and socializes.
We work together to address deficits that prevent your child from fully participating in life, coordinating the right healthcare professionals for his or her therapy. Our team also communicates with parents/caregivers, your child’s physician, school and any local therapists who care for your child closer to home.
Occupational therapy benefits children with a wide range of conditions, including:
- Cerebral palsy
- Developmental or fine motors delays
- Down syndrome
- Orthopedic injuries
- Sensory processing disorders
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
The condition or injury that caused your physician to prescribe occupational therapy—and any resulting challenges or deficits—determine the type of skills we emphasize in therapy. That may include:
- Strengthening or improving range of motion in upper extremities
- Activities of daily living, including bathing, eating and dressing
- Instrumental activities of daily living skills, such as learning how to cook, learning how to pay bills or staying focused with homework
- Visual perceptual skills which help children see and interpret their surroundings
- Fine motor skills such as handwriting
- Adaptive skills to help children cope with sensory processing disorders that affect their tolerance to certain tastes, tactile experiences, smells, textures, sounds, lights or other environmental or sensory conditions
Occupational therapists at Riley at IU Health are committed to bringing evidenced-based techniques and treatment to children in our care. Our association with the Indiana University School of Medicine and our continuous education in occupational therapy bring the latest innovations and knowledge to your child’s treatment.
What to Expect
What to Expect
Your child’s occupational therapy begins with a thorough evaluation. You complete an intake form to identify areas of concern. Before the evaluation begins, our therapists review your responses and ask additional questions to learn more about your child.
Parents and caregivers are a welcome part of the process in occupational therapy. Your knowledge provides therapists with insights that can improve the effectiveness of our care.
We assess your child through standardized tests and observation. During the evaluation, we encourage parents to stay nearby to answer follow-up questions. Your goals for your child are as important to treatment plans as our evaluation. Some children express their goals and participate in planning their own occupational therapy goals.
How often a child has occupational therapy and for how long is determined by the occupational therapist with consideration for each child and each family’s needs. Most families prefer to balance occupational therapy with school and family life. A typical routine may be once or twice a week, although an acute injury or condition might require more intensive therapy for a short period of time.
Most children in pediatric rehabilitation and outpatient therapy keep the same occupational therapist unless there is good reason to switch. Therapists may vary for patients who are in the hospital, but our preference is to keep therapists and families together to support a strong relationship between them.
What to Bring
When your child comes to occupational therapy, please bring anything that helps him or her function and anything that would be useful to therapists. That might include splints, braces, walkers, wheelchairs or other aids. If your child is working on fine motor skills, you may want to share examples of schoolwork to help occupational therapists observe current skills. For children with sensory processing disorders, such as aversions to taste, smell or touch, families might bring the object or food sample that offends their child’s senses.
Part of your child’s plan of care includes a set of activities or exercises that can be done at home. The more you support these activities, the more benefit your child receives from occupational therapy and the sooner he or she may recover or progress. Your involvement, follow-up and consistent participation in therapy are key factors in your child’s rate of progress.
What happens after occupational therapy is as different as children and their diagnoses.
- Some children receive occupational therapy for a short time before they recover from a temporary setback.
- Others learn lifelong skills necessary to adapt and live in their environment. A child with autism, for example, may always use skills he/she acquires in occupational therapy. Children with lifelong needs may do best with short bouts of therapy followed by breaks. These breaks allow children to continue practicing skills in their home environment before resuming occupational therapy to gain new skills.
- After working with some children, we may find that our first diagnosis is actually another condition that needs a different approach. If we think your child would benefit from other forms of therapy, we will help you find the right resources or coordinate further care through Riley at IU Health.
- Breaks in therapy may be recommended based on progress. Some children do best with breaks, which allow them to return to therapy later with renewed excitement. Others may take a break to practice certain skills at home. After mastering those, they return to learn a new set of skills.
We work closely with each family and other healthcare providers to decide on an appropriate time for each child’s discharge from occupational therapy.
Key Points to Remember
Key Points to Remember
- Occupational therapy can help kids function in the world when they are affected by a health condition, disorder or injury.
- Parents and caregivers are key partners in their child’s occupational therapy.
- Occupational therapy usually begins with a doctor’s prescription.
- Riley at IU Health provides occupational therapy in a multidisciplinary environment where your child is treated as a whole person.
- We help children develop skills that help them function as they recover from an injury.
- Children with certain conditions gain coping skills they may use for a lifetime after participating in occupational therapy.
Support Services & Resources
Support Services & Resources
Riley at IU Health offers a broad range of supportive services to make life better for families who choose us for their children's care.
The American Academy of Pediatrics supports pediatricians and offers information for parents on a wide range of health topics through this website.
This organization supports occupational therapists and shares public information and tips for parents and caregivers about training children for activities of daily living.