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0808 808 3555
As children grow they acquire all sorts of practical skills.
They learn self-help skills such as feeding and dressing
themselves, using the potty and the toilet. Through play, they
develop early learning skills - sorting objects, solving puzzles,
drawing pictures etc.
Children and young people with hemiplegia may take longer to
acquire these skills, and this is where the occupational therapist
(often shortened to OT) comes in. The OT looks at the child's
everyday life and devises ways of minimising the effects of their
hemiplegia, both at home and at school.
This might mean changing their environment in some way. A
special chair, cup or spoon can mean greater independence at
mealtimes. Velcro fastenings might make dressing easier. And other
bits of specialised equipment such as scissors and pens can also
increase your child's independence and self-confidence (this is
particularly important for left-handers).
The OT will advise you on toys and activities that will aid your
child's development, both physically and cognitively. They might
help hand eye co-ordination, for example, or encourage two-handed
activities. Particular activities and toys might help your child
develop the matching and sorting skills that will be important at
The OT is ideally placed to recognise early signs of
difficulties that might later affect your child's school
For example, some children and young people with hemiplegia have
problems with visual perception, i.e. how the brain organises the
information coming in through the eyes. This might show as
difficulty in, say, putting a puzzle together. Other children have
visual field defects, which means they cannot see what happens on
one or both edges of their field of vision. Children's drawings are
often a good way of discovering whether they have visual field
Although most children have their eyesight tested (visual
acuity), most do not have their visual perception assessed. This is
one of the roles of the paediatric OT, and of course the earlier
problems like these are identified, the better.
The occupational therapist can come along to pre-school or
nursery to advise staff how they can best help your child develop