Activities of Daily Living

Who requires ADL support?

Activities of Daily Living (ADL) is exactly as it says, activities we do every day to live a health and productive life. This includes activities such as brushing teeth, getting dressed, fending and going to the bathroom, among others. Our involvement in ADLs changes as we grow. For older kids and adults ADLS also includes things like getting around town, managing money, etc. Children may have difficulty with age-appropriate ADLs for a variety of reasons including sensory sensitivities, motor skills delay or cognitive differences. 

What may treatment include?  

OT would start with an assessment of age-appropriate ADLs to understand the priorities and underlying challenges contributing to poor ADL follow through. Working with the child, family and community members we then work towards finding an approach that fits the family and child’s needs.

Some treatment strategies may include;

  • Graded tasks (Just Right Challenges) to teach the skill (for example using large buttons before moving onto smaller buttons)
  • Adapting the activity ( for instance elastic shoe laces or velcro) 
  • Sensory Treatment or strategies to reduce discomfort of some of the ADLs (such as a child who has difficulty with dressing and tolerating the feeling of clothing) 
  • CO-OP treatment (cognitive orientation to occupational performance) and problem-solving collaboratively with the child and family to help solve practical issues with ADL follow-through (for example trouble getting through their morning routine to leave for school on time)

Often many approaches are used in collaboration and dependent on priorities. Often ADL tasks will be practiced in the context of games and play to increase a child’s participation and motivation.  

Why OT? 

Occupational Therapists are experienced with task analysis and are able to break the task down, thereby understanding child’s current abilities and grade the task accordingly. This allows for a feeling of success and motivation. OTs have a variety of treatment approaches at their disposal; sensory, behavioural, or problem-solving frameworks, to provide concrete and realistic improvements for your family. 

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