Our early intervention (EI) occupational therapists work with kids from 0-3 to ensure they are well-equipped to succeed socially and developmentally. Throughout EI, our therapists partner with the whole family as the child grows and matures and work to build awareness about the child’s strengths, as well as any challenges that may exist, in order to best equip children to succeed in their daily activities and goals. Then, when the time is right, we’ll provide evaluations to determine the need for continuing services in preschool or kindergarten and stay involved throughout the transition process as appropriate.
A child’s life is made up of “occupations,” or “jobs.” These “jobs” include playing, learning, resting/sleeping, communicating with friends and family, and daily tasks, such as brushing teeth and getting dressed. Not only do occupational therapists (OTs) work with children and their families to help them succeed in these regular activities, they can also help with basic challenges faced by most families, from creating morning routines to choosing appropriate toys. In early intervention, we combine creativity with strategies that have proven to be effective through research to help children learn and grow.
OTs often work with other professionals and care providers, including physicians, nurses, speech-language pathologists, psychologists, physical therapists, and teachers to best identify the needs of the kids and families. Through this interdisciplinary approach, we are able to:
- provide ways for children to participate in daily routines
- assess children’s developmental and learning needs
- plan and implement relevant intervention strategies and developmentally appropriate activities
- reduce environmental barriers that limit a child’s participation in family, learning, and community-based activities
- identify needed assistive technology devices and supports, and
- prepare children and their families for transition to preschool, school, and other community-based programs.
For kids with a disability or learning delay:
OTs also play a key role in educating parents and caregivers about disability and the development of kids with diverse health and learning needs. Our therapists can provide exceptional care and support for young children with a variety of conditions, including:
- premature birth
- low-birth weight
- congenital anomalies
- neurological disorders
- sensory processing difficulties
- challenging behavior
- neuromuscular disease
- prenatal drug exposure, and
Services address feeding skills, sensory integration, motor development, environmental exploration, play skills, adaptive behavior, and interactions between the child and others. In early intervention, our goal is to support the family’s ability to care for the child. Together, we develop strategies and tactics that they can use daily in their interactions. Our therapists also support parents by providing information about accessing community resources and building social support for their child and family.
As a community-based practice, we are uniquely positioned to provide therapy services to our pediatric clients in a variety of settings, including the clinic, home, school, or community. We are also contracted providers through the Missouri First Steps* program. Because we can provide services anywhere, we can reach our clients where their needs will be best addressed, and best help the child and family thrive.
*Please note that families receiving services through First Steps may not request our clinicians specifically for OT services. First Steps will place families as appropriate, based upon their regular placement criteria and selection process