Angelman syndrome is a neurological genetic disorder that causes physical and intellectual disabilities.
How Angelman syndrome affects the body
Developmental delays in Angelman syndrome affect fine motor skills, which can cause difficulty in performing daily activities, while brain involvement causes problems in sensory processing or the ability to react to information received from any of the senses: touch, vision, taste, smell, and hearing.
Therefore, children with Angelman find it difficult to perform self-care activities, have poor hand-eye coordination, and may become overwhelmed by any form of sensory stimulus.
How can occupational therapy help?
Occupational therapy can help these children to overcome their motor difficulties and become as independent as possible.
Since the symptoms of Angelman syndrome vary from patient to patient, the occupational therapist will first thoroughly evaluate the patient to understand their functional status and ability to perform daily activities. The therapist will then create an individualized plan based on the patient’s needs and schedule therapy sessions with activities that can help the patient.
Occupational therapy focuses on developing specific skills that can help the children perform daily activities and improve their social interaction. The activities in an occupational therapy session are aimed at improving:
- Fine motor and visual skills to help children develop the use of their hands and be able to hold crayons, grasp small objects such as mugs, play with toys, gain balance, and alleviate gait issues.
- Oral motor function and feeding skills so children can use forks and spoons to feed themselves, drink water from cups, and use their lips, tongue, and cheeks to move food in their mouths and chew properly.
- Personal habits by teaching them to perform self-care activities such as brushing their teeth, bathing, and dressing.
- Visual perception and sensory awareness to help patients develop appropriate muscle responses to any sight, touch, taste, smell, or sound.
The occupational therapist can also provide instructions for home exercises and recommendations for adaptations at home and school, which can make daily activities easier for the child.
They can also recommend aids and adaptations, such as leg braces and wheelchairs, to help with mobility difficulties.
Last updated: September 8, 2019.
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