Occupational Therapy for ADHD

Occupational Therapy For Mental Health Challenges

My son gets occupational therapy for ADHD. An occupational therapist recommended it when other treatments failed. In our first session, our occupational therapist from the American Occupational Therapy Association invited me inside this playroom with a whiteboard filled with drawings and words. The first drawing I saw on the board was a chair. Next, another drawing was a hand with five fingers. Following the third drawing during the treatment plan was a pair of opened eyes. After that, it came with a drawing of closed lips. I read that this was part of the initial patient evaluations in the occupational therapy process.


Occupational Therapy can cure ADHD. This therapy rule is focused on the concept of patience which kids with ADHD don't possess.

source: sciencedaily.com

Occupational Therapy And Occupational Therapy Programs

Next, I saw a drawing of ears. After the drawings, there were phrases that said “FINISH WORK”, NO HITTING HEAD” and lastly, NO SLAPPING, GRABBING, PUSHING”. Besides the eight occupational therapy rules, there were three boxes and one of those boxes had an “x” mark.

On top of the board, it said, “8 OCCUPATION THERAPY RULES FOR MICHAEL.”

Sit And Wait

My son is extremely hyperactive and that’s because of his ADHD, which is considered a mental illness. I know that now. And one way to control a child with excess energy is “The Chair” wherein they have to sit and wait for a few minutes in the clinics. The occupational therapist told me to teach my child to “sit and wait” for 5 minutes at home – doing nothing, but just IT. It was to be included as one of his everyday activities.

This occupational therapy rule is focused on the concept of patience which kids with ADHD don’t possess.

They have to understand, his occupational therapist explained, that they can’t stand until the time is up. Also,  no asking when it’s done and no fidgeting (these are all symptoms of his mental health condition), as well. They just have to wait it out. The number of treatment minutes has to increase each day until he learns to behave on his own without the need to prompt him. This is a very effective occupational therapy practice, especially for those with developmental disabilities.


“The Hand” rule means not to touch things especially if it’s not yours. In the occupational therapy setting, kids with ADHD don’t understand the concept of boundaries and would grab anything that has their interest. They won’t even ask permission to borrow a certain thing and that behavior needs to be curbed. This is part of their mental illness.


Kids who have ADHD as a condition, before treatment and occupation therapy, cannot focus on a certain task at 100%. This is really a mental health challenge for them. So many occupational therapists try to incorporate tasks within their everyday activities that involve attentiveness.


Kids who have ADHD as a condition, before therapy and occupation treatment, cannot focus on a certain task at 100%.

source: pexels.com


“The Lips” rule is very simple – training them not to talk when inside the classroom and while the teacher is speaking. On the same platform, don’t interrupt a person while he is talking, and wait for your turn to speak.

Children with ADHD are excessive talkers.

This treatment rule is one way to address one of their most common behavioral problems – their communication skills are not excellent. This rule will also give time for the child to assess his thoughts, organize them in his mind and speak out when called upon or when it’s his turn to talk. Restraint is being practiced by the child and the rule will create this skill. These are skills needed to improve for individuals with learning disabilities.


Kids with ADHD don’t have the skill to listen intently. In order to treat this type of behavior using the treatment, the children are being taught the concept of listening – listen to your teacher, mom, dad, older siblings and etc. During the session, the child will learn to “listen” without inattentive issues. That is “The Ears” rule.

Occupational Therapy For Behavioral Problems

As for my son, he is sometimes unable to finish his tasks or activities. It’s not that he doesn’t want to finish it. His fine and gross motor skills are delayed (he also has ASD) and that interferes with what he is doing. His social skills also need improvement.

Occupational therapists work in a variety of settings, including private practice, outpatient clinics, and educational settings. They are trained health professionals with a master’s degree who help individuals of all ages improve their ability to perform daily tasks. Occupational therapists create treatment plans tailored to the individual needs of their clients and may work with older adults to help them maintain their independence. Job growth for occupational therapists is projected to be much faster than average, according to labor statistics, and continuing education classes are important to stay up-to-date on best practices in the field.

Moreover, occupational therapists work in various settings, including nursing homes, to help patients perform daily activities such as dressing, bathing, and eating. Occupational therapy programs offer courses in the use of special equipment and techniques to improve the quality of life for patients. Continuing education resources are available to help occupational therapists stay up-to-date with new technologies and treatments. Additional resources are available to help occupational therapists work with patients who have physical or cognitive impairments that affect daily living.

With the “Finish Work” rule, he has to act accordingly and efficiently in order to complete his work.

“School–at least schools as usually defined these days–is a place where you must concentrate on what you are told to concentrate on, no matter how tedious; follow the teachers’ directions, no matter how inane; complete assignments for the sheer purpose of completing them, even though they accomplish nothing useful; and, while doing all of that, control your emotions,” writes occupation treatment expert Peter Gray Ph.D. Education classes are complemented by physical activity and occupational therapy services for promoting health, reducing environmental barriers, and learning social skills.

At first, it was really difficult for him because of his disability. But with his will to complete his task and as pushed by the occupation treatment tools, he was able to do the task.

Occupational Therapy

No Hitting In Occupational Therapy

When my boy gets frustrated, he hits his head on the wall or with his fists (resulting in injuries at times). This too was treated by occupational therapy professionals.

Occupational therapy requires a minimum of a master’s degree, and some occupational therapists may have a doctoral degree. Specialty certifications are also available in areas such as pediatrics and mental health. To become certified, occupational therapists must pass a national exam and certification exam. Occupational therapists help patient’s condition and improve his ability to perform daily activities using therapeutic use of self and adaptive equipment. Occupational therapy education can begin with an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree, and some occupational therapists work with patients who have chronic conditions across a range of different occupations.

It made him understand that it’s ok to be frustrated at times. You just have to let it out vocally, instead of hitting your head. (He doesn’t do it anymore with just after 8 OT sessions.)

“Previous longitudinal studies have found a higher suicide rate in a sample of both men and women with ADHD. It is also one of the first studies that show a higher self-harm rate in women with ADHD,” writes expert Stephanie A. Sarkis Ph.D.

So, when he is angry or sad, he talks to me about it. The “No Hitting Head” treatment rule in the occupational therapy setting made him learn how to speak what he’s thinking and feeling like any normal person would do.

“The nonstop leisure activities, impulsive actions, and more frequent aggressiveness of children with the hyperactive or combined types of ADHD are obvious sources of annoyance to peers. They are more likely than other children to argue and start fights,” notes expert Eileen Kennedy-Moore Ph.D.


don't interrupt a person while he is talking and wait for your turn to speak. Children with ADHD are excessive talkers and this treatment rule is one way to minimize that behavior.

source: kubanvseti.ru

Occupational Therapy

It was a very productive first occupational therapy session not only for my boy but also for adults like me – I learned about RULES and why the treatment rules were necessary.

I needed to change the ways how I handled my son. Rules were truly needed for his behavioral modification and for promoting health

After all that, I asked, “Teacher, what’s that “x” in the box? ”

“If your son breaks an occupational therapy rule, there will be an “x”. This “x” is his punishment like – no tv, no gadget, no dessert, no candy, no going out, no playing with new toys, etc. I need your help with enacting this rule at home. Will you do that?” our expert said.

Me? Can I punish my son for having ADHD? My heart cringed at that thought, but it needed to be done. I had to be strict. The occupational therapy rules must be implemented. He has to learn how to behave.

“Yes, I’ll do it.”

Final Thoughts On Occupational Treatment Therapy

Now, as I look at my son after occupational therapy sessions – rarely fidgets, sits down in class, includes himself in family conversations, has a toy-sharing older brother, and a whole lot more – I know I made the right decision to sign up for treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions On Occupational Therapy

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