Call Us Today! 781-335-6663

What are Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)?

For children, the world is a vast classroom where every small task presents an opportunity for learning and growth. Unlike adults, who move through their daily routines with ease, children must actively learn and master the basics—tasks that can often be challenging and overwhelming. This struggle can lead to reluctance in trying new things or increased frustration and negative behaviors when faced with daily activities. At South Shore Therapies, we are committed to supporting children in their development of Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs). These tasks are crucial stepping stones towards independence and holistic health for our young ones. Understanding and mastering ADLs and IADLs equips children with foundational skills necessary for successful and independent living.



Unveiling the Basics: What Are ADLs and Why Do They Matter?

The term 'Activities of Daily Living' encompasses the fundamental actions that we engage in daily to preserve their health and well-being. These activities lay the groundwork for kids to thrive and engage fully in life. Key aspects of children's ADLs involve:

The Six Basic ADLs:

  • Personal Hygiene – This involves regular bathing or showering, washing hands, dental care like brushing teeth, and hair care such as combing or brushing.
  • Continence Management – This requires the effective control and management of bowel and bladder functions.
  • Dressing – This entails selecting and wearing clothes that are appropriate for the weather and can include managing fasteners such as zippers, buttons, and shoelaces.
  • Eating – This includes the ability to feed oneself appropriately sized portions of food, and the ability to chew and swallow safely.
  • Mobility – This pertains to the ability to move around safely in various environments such as, getting in and out of bed, navigating the playground, standing from/or sitting in a chair at school, etc.

As our children grow, they will be expected to participate in these activities at different capacities – ultimately leading to independent participation. It is important to support the development of skill needed to successfully engage in these activities.

Children and Instrumental ADLs

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs) for children encompass skills that are more complex and necessitate higher cognitive functions such as planning and organization. These skills are crucial for their transition towards independence as the child grows.

  • Transportation and Shopping: Understanding how to use public transport, the concept of shopping for necessities such as school supplies and participating in family grocery shopping trips.
  • Managing Finances: Basic concepts of money, including allowances, understanding the value of items, and simple transactions.
  • Meal Preparation and Shopping: Involvement in meal planning, learning to make simple meals, understanding the importance of a balanced diet, and assisting in shopping for meal ingredients.
  • Housekeeping and Home Maintenance: Learning to clean up personal spaces, such as tidying up toys, making the bed, and assisting in household chores appropriate for their age.
  • Communication Management: Developing effective communication skills, including the use of telephone under supervision, and understanding postal items like letters.
  • Medication Management: Recognizing the name and purpose of their medications, understanding the importance of taking them as prescribed, under supervision.

Fostering these IADL skills in children not only aids in their current developmental stage but also lays a solid foundation for their future independence.

These activities showcase the extended range of skills necessary for a sustained quality of life. While our kids may not be independent in many of these tasks yet, South Shore Therapies can provide targeted interventions that address sensory, cognitive, physical, and emotional components of development that will be required for independence with IADLs in the future.

Why the Distinction Matters

It's not merely about checklists and assessments. Understanding the distinction between ADLs and IADLs serves as a beacon in formulating care plans that are tailored to an individual's unique constellation of needs, abilities, and interests. Distinguishing between these tasks, and what is expected of the child in their phase of development, and what is important to the child and their family, enables our occupational therapists to offer targeted interventions that serve to strengthen the child's functional capacity and enhance their quality of life.

Benefits of Occupational Therapy for Developmental Delays

Occupational Therapy (OT) can support the development of foundational skills needed for your child to perform at their optimal potential each day. Some areas that OT intervention can target are:

  • Daily Living Skills: Helps children acquire essential activities of daily living, including hygiene, toileting, feeding, and completing chores.
  • Family Routines: Aids in establishing effective family routines to support the child's development.
  • Motor Skills Development: Improves both fine motor (small movements) and gross motor (large movements) skills.
  • Socialization Skills: Assists in developing the necessary social skills for children to interact effectively with others.
  • Academic Skills: Supports children in acquiring the skills needed for success in the classroom environment.
  • Continuity of Care: Provides families with targeted home programming to support the generalization of skills and to promote successful participation across environments.

The Team at South Shore Therapies Can Help

At South Shore Therapies, we specialize in using a sensory integrative approach to help your child reach their highest level of independence. Recognizing early ’red flags’ in your child's development can lead to proactive intervention.  Occupational therapy focuses on enhancing a child's ability to perform everyday tasks by improving their motor planning, fine and gross motor skills, social and emotional regulation and their overall body awareness and relationship with our environment. Our comprehensive approach aims to support your child in developing the necessary skills for effective participation in daily activities and to support social and academic success as needed to improve their quality of life. Through a personalized therapy plan, we aim to foster their growth in strength, sensory processing, and early developmental milestones.

We invite you to join us in this mission, to learn, grow, and advocate for a world where the symphony of life plays on, for all. For more information or to seek our services, don't hesitate to reach out to South Shore Therapies at 781-335-6663 or visit our website here.


Leave a comment

Copyright © 2024 · Powered by LOCALiQ