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This is the third post in our UF Health Wildlight series. Throughout this series, we’ll be interviewing various UF Health professionals about services and wellness practices that can help our residents live their healthiest lives.

As we’ve learned from our previous two UF Health Series posts, The UF Health Rehabilitation – Wildlight team offers a unique tri-disciplinary approach to pediatric therapy services.

We’ve seen how Physical Therapist Jessie Walczak and her team work with children on movement. We talked with Speech-Language Pathologist Ashley Parker about how she and her team help children with speech delays learn to communicate. Today, we’re pleased to introduce Shannon Taylor, an occupational therapist who helps children improve fine motor skills, sensory processing and daily life skills.

Could Occupational Therapy Help Your Child?

“Pure magic” is a term Shannon Taylor, an occupational therapist at UF Health Rehabilitation – Wildlight, has heard parents use to describe the gains their children make from therapy. Many children enter therapy unable to perform basic daily living tasks, such as getting dressed, self-feeding or brushing their teeth, and go on to master those skills and many more that facilitate independence of daily activities at home and school.

“Being an occupational therapist is a very rewarding career. I get to see children on a day-to-day basis make progress, whether big or small,” Taylor said.

Behaviors related to sensory processing difficulties, self-care delays and fine motor deficits can leave parents with many questions and concerns. An occupational therapy evaluation may be warranted if a parent is noticing that their child is having difficulty with any of the following areas below. It is important to talk to your pediatrician if you have questions about your child’s development.

o Difficulty dressing, fastening buttons and tying shoelaces

o Using silverware or straws at an age appropriate level

o Using zippers

o Holding a bottle and moving toys from one hand to another by 5 months old

o Banging two objects together and holding a spoon by 9 months old

o Pointing with an index finger by 9 to 12 months old

o Using thumb and finger to pick up objects by 12 months old

o Coloring and tracing

o Difficulty holding a pencil

o Holding and manipulating toys

o Letter and number formation

o Poor handwriting

o Using scissors

o Constantly moving, jumping and crashing

o Demonstrating sensitivities to touch, taste, sound or movement

o Difficulty coping with change

o Easily distracted

Pediatric occupational therapy can provide personalized services to children from birth to teenage years. They use age-appropriate, purposeful activities to minimize the effects of diseases, injuries, congenital defects, disabilities or developmental delays so the child can live and learn to his or her full potential.

In addition to occupational therapy, UF Health Rehabilitation – Wildlight offers physical and speech therapy. Many kids who have significant developmental delays benefit from two and sometimes all three disciplines. The specialists work together to give patients and families a customized treatment plan to help meet their needs.

To learn more about pediatric physical therapy services at UF Health Rehabilitation–Wildlight, please visit their website at or call 904.427.8300.

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