Therapy Assists Child Development

When Hinson Sung, a Primary 3 student, underwent an assessment at the Department of Health’s Child Assessment Centre, its report showed that he had weak postural control, under-developed self-care skills and slow handwriting.

 

He was then referred to Kowloon Hospital to receive occupational therapy.

 

Hinson’s mother was very worried about his development.

 

“My son usually writes slowly when doing homework,” she said. “And he is weak in dictation. Of course, I was unhappy at first. But I hope he can seize the opportunity to improve.”

 

Therapeutic training

The department provides different types of training for schoolchildren with handwriting problems, including a session where cards are used to improve understanding of Chinese word structure.

 

Patients practise writing with a variety of tools, and are also trained to develop their fine motor skills.

 

In one exercise Hinson is able to improve his co-ordination skills while sitting on a swing.

 

Marked improvement

Kowloon Hospital Advanced Practice Occupational Therapist Sandy Pang said Hinson has advanced greatly thanks to the training.  

 

“He showed significant improvement, including in his Chinese handwriting speed.

 

“For other parts like co-ordination, strength and endurance, initially he lagged behind his same-age peers by about one and a half years. But after a year of training, the deviation became less.”

 

For his part, Hinson said the training has helped him a lot.

 

“Now I know how to distinguish different radicals of Chinese words. I hope my Chinese test scores and dictation can continue to improve.”

 

Mrs Sung added that she hopes her son can keep improving.

 

Upward trend

Hospital Authority Coordinating Committees & Central Committees of Grade (Occupational Therapy) Co-chair Dora Chan highlighted that there has lately been an upward trend in the number of referrals. Statistics from occupational therapy departments show that in the last three years they have increased by 10 to 15%.

 

“As occupational therapists in paediatrics, we not only treat physical problems, we also treat cases with mental health problems,” she said. “Mental health problems are those like autism, attention deficit disorder and depression.”

 

She urged parents not to get unduly anxious, but added that professional evaluation should be performed as soon as developmental impairments are identified in early life.

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