Is your child able to play? Does she have trouble putting on or taking off her clothes? Taking off her socks? Is he easily frustrated with problems? Having difficulty planning out and sequencing a task? Is she a picky eater? Does he have issues with textures and types of food? If you answered yes to any of these questions, the outpatient therapists at Easter Seals Central and Southeast Ohio can help.

Is your child able to play? Does she have trouble putting on or taking off her clothes? Taking off her socks? Is he easily frustrated with problems? Having difficulty planning out and sequencing a task? Is she a picky eater? Does he have issues with textures and types of food?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, the outpatient therapists at Easter Seals Central and Southeast Ohio can help.

"We treat children from birth to 21 years of age," explained Kate Berry, medical rehabilitation manager at Easter Seals Central and Southeast Ohio. "The bulk of the children are 18 months old to 14 years old, but we have worked with children as young as 2 months old."

For younger children, the focus is on developmental milestones. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), skills such as taking a first step, smiling for the first time, and waving "bye bye" are developmental milestones. Children reach milestones in how they play, learn, speak, behave, and move.

The CDC lists the following hand and finger skills milestones for a typically-developing 3-year-old: Makes up-and-down, side-to-side, and circular lines with a pencil or crayon; turns book pages one at a time; builds a tower of more than six blocks or holds a pencil in a writing position.

Parents should watch to see how their child is developing compared to these milestones. If you think your child is not reaching them, talk to your pediatrician, said Berry. So, how does your child get from the doctor's office to Easter Seals?


The road to therapy

Once you meet with the pediatrician, he or she will write a prescription with a diagnosis that describes your child's needs. Then you can ask for a referral for outpatient therapy facility, like Easter Seals. There, a licensed therapist conducts an evaluation and makes recommendations the frequency and duration are based on the needs of the child at that time, explained Berry. The doctor reviews that evaluation and agrees on a plan of care.


What is physical therapy (PT)?

PT enhances and restores function and mobility; improves balance, coordination, strength, flexibility and endurance. Physical therapists help children develop skills such as crawling, walking, sitting and standing. PT also can help increase range of motion and strength and decrease pain and swelling. If a 5-year-old has trouble going up and down steps, strength is an issue in his legs and trunk Easter Seals can help him build core strengths, Berry said.


What is occupational therapy (OT)?

While PT deals with gross motor movements, OT deals with fine motor movements. It focuses on a child's skill development in relation to everyday life. Treatment aims to teach dressing, eating and personal hygiene tasks such as tying one's shoes, cutting with scissors, problem-solving and social and emotional skills. "They may play a game of Ants in Your Pants that involves kids picking up a really small ant and they learn to take turns," explained Berry.


What is speech therapy (ST)?

Problem-solving abilities are addressed in ST. While PT deals with speaking and articulation, it also helps improve swallowing skills, communication skills and issues with memory. "Sometimes their articulation is off their lips are tight so they can't move their lips right to make a sound," says Berry. "We can help them with that."


Working in conjunction

OT and ST can help picky eaters who may have issues with textures or types of food many of the skill sets addressed cross one or more therapies and your child may need more than one. But all the disciplines work together to ensure that the child gets the support and assistance that they need.

"Our job is to teach the child how to use the bodies they've got," Berry said. "We individualize the plan based on the needs of the child and the family. They are involved in goal setting the child has to be motivated. And parents need to follow through with exercises and suggestions. Children improve more quickly by doing it daily in their own setting with their own family."

The job of children is to play, said Berry. "We have swings and equipment that is fun to be on. Wii Fit is a great motivator they do the hard work first and the video can be their reward. We see a child; we don't see a diagnosis."