Occupational Therapy for ADHD Robert Seith | CWK Network
It’s going to be hard for him even with all the intervention. And like I said it would have been ideal had I heard about Susan when he was in 4 th or 5 th grade and started off a lot earlier.
- Karin Szwec, explaining how her 14-year-old son, who has ADHD, could have benefited if he had tried occupational therapy earlier.

  Related Information What Parents Need To Know Resources

14-year-old Cameron has always had trouble in school.

Whether it’s following instructions…

“He would think about what the teacher was saying and only hear part of it and start doing the work and not complete it effectively,” says his mother, Karin Szwec.

Or staying focused…

“I might look up at the board and see something in the room and just not really, just get distracted by something,” explains Cameron.

Cameron has attention deficit disorder…

Medications helped… but they weren’t the cure-all.

So this summer, he’s trying something new: occupational therapy.

It looks like simple exercises…bouncing a basketball, balancing a balloon on a racket… but before everything, the therapist gives him detailed instructions: exactly how many steps to take, for instance, and how many dribbles to make.

“I structured in there he had to repeat a pattern for sequencing, he had to be able to sub-vocalize what the pattern was… so he was learning strategies for assimilating and processing that information,” says Occupational Therapist Susan Orloff.

She says it’s a fun, low stress way to teach a-d-d children listening skills, how to pause before they act, how to focus.

A new study from Temple University backs that up. Of 88 children who took 40 hours of occupational therapy, 85-percent improved in their ability to remember instructions from a teacher, and finish test assignments.

“He’s toning down on his impulsivity,” says Mrs. Szwec, “He used to be very impulsive. He would hear an instruction and jump right in before the instruction was completed.”

Experts say occupational therapy isn’t a replacement for a-d-h-d drugs… but used with medication… can greatly add to gains.

“We’re not the white horse that’s going to come through and clean up everything,” says Orloff, “We’re part of that package.”

By Larry Eldridge
CWK Network, Inc.

According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, ADHD occurs in 3 to 5 percent of school age children. The following are given as symptoms of ADHD:

  • Inattention
  • Distractibility
  • Impulsivity
  • Excessive talking
  • Impatience
  • A tendency to interrupt or intrude on others

In addition, researchers found that boys with ADHD move two to three times as much and cover four times as much area as normal boys. Girls with ADHD move as frequently but their movements cover a smaller area.

By Larry Eldridge
CWK Network, Inc.

Since judging the symptoms of ADHD can be very subjective, some children may be diagnosed with ADHD without actually having the disorder. A recent study suggests that parents’ and physicians’ preconceived notions about children’s behavior may interfere with the identification and diagnosis of ADHD and other disorders.

Because this possibility exists, it is very important to find a good pediatrician who will properly diagnose your child and around whom you and your child will feel very comfortable. Experts at BJC HealthCare and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta suggest keeping the following points in mind when choosing a pediatrician and/or occupational therapist:

  • Are you more comfortable with a specialist who is no-nonsense and businesslike, or do you need more handholding?
  • Would you prefer a specialist who sets aside a particular time each day to take phone calls or would you rather contact the office when questions arise and have the specialist return your call between patient visits?
  • Do you prefer a male or a female pediatrician or therapist?
  • Is age a factor for you? Are you more comfortable dealing with an older or younger specialist?
  • Are the office hours convenient for you? Do you need evening or weekend hours?
  • Is the office conveniently located?
  • How are after-hours calls and emergencies handled?

So how do you know if your child needs to see an occupational therapist? According to experts at Handwriting Without Tears, your child should be referred to an occupational therapist if …

  • The child consistently demonstrates difficulty with cutting, writing, or manipulating clothing fasteners, small objects, and toys.
  • The child has difficulty with gross motor functioning, sitting upright in their desk, playing on the playground or difficulty moving specific joints during an activity.
  • The child needs adaptations to their environment in order to make a task easier.
  • The child has a difficult time feeding himself or herself in the cafeteria, manipulating his/her clothing during school activities, or while toileting.
  • The child does not demonstrate hand dominance and it is affecting his/her work (speed, neatness, etc.).
The child has difficulty with perceptual skills that hinders academic performance (i.e. copying from the blackboard, can't recall what objects look like, large amount of reversals in written work, difficulty copying designs).
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
BJC Healthcare
Handwriting Without Tears
Children's Special Services