Behavioural Occupational Therapy

The “naughty one”, the “busy body” or the “disruptive one”. When you read these, you can often picture someone who may fit into these categories and display some behavioural challenges. These behavioural difficulties are very common and often parents are unsure of who to see if their child presents with these challenges.

There is a range of reasons for the presentation of difficult behaviours including symptoms of anxiety, sensory processing challenges, difficulties with academic or social skills at school, boredom, low confidence, low self-esteem, emotional dysregulation, attentional difficulties, language (expressive or receptive) challenges or poor executive functioning skills. These presentations are often very similar and it can be difficult to distinguish what exactly the child is struggling with. As occupational therapists, parents and teachers it is so important that we can identify the underlying difficulty for the child to be able to provide the most successful support.

Occupational Therapy for children

Occupational therapy for behavioural problems begins with a holistic and comprehensive assessment of the child’s skills to determine and/or rule out any causes, triggers or patterns in the child’s behaviour.  Often there is an underlying cause or pattern to why the child is behaving the way they are. Whether that be sleep difficulties, hunger or sensory processing issues. Occupational therapy for behaviour then focusses on developing the child’s self-awareness and self-regulation skills, as well as educating the child’s parents and teachers on the best ways to support the child to achieve their very best.

Unfortunately, occupational therapists can only provide periodic care possibly once a week or once a fortnight. Therefore, one of the most effective ways to manage behavioural difficulties is by empowering the child’s support team who see the child each day, such as their parents or teachers. Co-regulation, routine, consistency, expectations and positive reinforcement are some of the most successful ways to manage unexpected or unwanted behaviours at home and at school which can all be explained, shown and reviewed in occupational therapy for behaviour. Additionally, occupational therapists can teach the child valuable skills in understanding and acknowledging their emotions and behaviours, strengths and difficulties and empower them with a ‘toolbox’ of regulation strategies.

Although there isn’t a “cure” as such for behavioural difficulties, occupational therapy for behaviour can support the child and their care givers to engage functionally and appropriately in all environments.

If you need help with your child's behaviour, book an appointment or speak with one of our experts today.

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