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Signs That Your Child Might Benefit From Occupational Therapy

Children are always learning and the learning they do at a young age can benefit them in the future and their adult lives. Through pediatric occupational therapy, we can guide children who might have difficulty learning certain skills on their own and ensuring that they are not being left behind in terms of essential developmental skills. And yet, many parents are unsure of whether their child is in need of some additional skill guidance.

What is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational therapy refers to active therapy that assists people who work on cognitive, physical, social, and motor skills. The concepts of occupational therapy were used long before it was labeled as such and it was often paired with people in the medical field as part of other treatments for patients that suffered from a variety of conditions.

Does My Child Need OT?

Sometimes the answer is not always clear cut. Children are different and develop differently with different personalities. Yet, there are certain milestones and indications that might provide some clue about whether your child might be needing some additional help through occupational therapy.

Here are some questions parents should ask:

  • Does your child struggle with day-to-day activities at home or at school?

  • Do they show challenges that are different from the other children?

  • Have you noticed that your child is limited in motor skills or is not coordinated the way other children his age are?

  • Do they struggle to focus at school?

  • Have they exhibited poor impulse control?

Occupational therapy can support and help your child in the following ways:

Developmental Delays

This refers to when a child is behind in developing skills that are common during a certain age group or time period. It’s not always about being behind in one skill but rather showing deficiencies in a combination of skills that serve as milestones for child development. Examples of this might include: not crawling, walking at the appropriate age, and difficulties developing age-appropriate play and social skills.

Fine Motor Skills

These are small but very important movements made with fingers, toes, wrists, lips, and tongue. It can be anything from picking up a pencil and being able to draw or color with it. If your child is a little behind in the development of their fine motor skills, you might notice it in:

  • Manipulating toys and puzzles

  • Holding a pen, pencil, or crayons

  • The use of silverware

  • Messy illegible handwriting

  • Unable to tie shoelaces

  • And more

Movement, Strength, and Balance

These are often referred to as gross motor skills and help us move our arms, legs, and balance our whole body. So it’s essentially the control and function of larger muscles that control a lot of our movement. If you notice that your child is particularly clumsy or uncoordinated, it might be a sign that they are behind on their gross motor skills. Some examples include:

  • Being able to go up and downstairs

  • Bouncing a ball or performing typical child play activities

  • Not understanding the concept of right or left

  • Falling frequently for no reason

  • Showing poor balance

  • Unable to participate in activities or games that require coordination

Social Interaction Skills

This is another way that occupational therapy can benefit a child. Social relationships become important as a child begins going to school and reaches adulthood. These skills help us communicate, build relationships, and relate to other people. Your child might have delayed social skills if they exhibit some of the following behavior:

  • Unable to interact with peers or with family

  • A real difficulty adapting to new environments

  • Delayed language skills

  • Has difficulty coping or becomes easily overwhelmed with the school environment

  • Cries often because of social experiences

Sensory Processing

This is a process we all perform every day. We receive information through our senses and we process it in order to gain an understanding of our environment or surroundings. A child that has an over sensitivity to this might show certain signs and benefit from OT. These include:

  • Overly sensitive to sound, touch, or movement

  • Has little to no response to certain sensations. (for example, high pain tolerance)

  • Easily distracted by other stimuli

  • A real difficulty in the ability to calm themselves once they become upset

Learning Challenges

Another reason that your child might benefit from OT, is if they are exhibiting signs of learning difficulties. Addressing these early can be very beneficial for your child in the future and set them on the right path to their education. If your child is challenged by some of the following, you might consider occupational therapy:

  • Lack of focus and concentration at school and during homework

  • Difficulty in following instructions

  • Lack of impulse control

  • Limitations in retaining or learning new information

  • Low energy or high energy (hyperactivity)

Thinking about Occupational Therapy for Your Child, Visit Us Today!

Here at Villa Children’s Therapy, we can help you figure out the best approach to your child’s development. If you have noticed some of the above with your child or have doubts about whether your child’s development is normal or could use some guidance, give us a call today.

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