As a parent, it can be difficult to recognise when your child needs occupational therapy. However, there are several signs to watch out for that may indicate that your child could benefit from this type of therapy.
Occupational therapy is a type of therapy that focuses on helping people develop the skills they need to participate in daily activities. For children, this often includes skills related to play, school, and socialisation.
Here are some signs that your child may need occupational therapy:
Difficulty with fine motor skills
Fine motor skills involve the use of small muscles in the hands and fingers, and are important for tasks like writing, drawing, and using scissors. If your child is struggling with these types of tasks, they may benefit from occupational therapy. A therapist can work with your child to improve their hand-eye coordination, grip strength, and other fine motor skills.
Some children have difficulty processing sensory information, which can make it hard for them to participate in daily activities. They may be oversensitive to certain textures, sounds, or smells, or they may seek out sensory input in a way that is disruptive. Occupational therapy can help children learn to regulate their sensory systems, which can improve their ability to participate in school and social activities.
Poor social skills
If your child is struggling to make friends or participate in group activities, occupational therapy may be able to help. A therapist can work with your child to develop social skills like taking turns, sharing, and communicating effectively. They may also be able to help your child learn to read social cues and understand nonverbal communication.
Poor attention span
If your child has difficulty staying focused or completing tasks, occupational therapy may be able to help. A therapist can work with your child to improve their attention span and help them develop strategies for staying on task. This can be particularly helpful for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or other attention-related issues.
Delayed developmental milestones
If your child is not meeting developmental milestones on time, occupational therapy may be able to help. A therapist can work with your child to develop the skills they need to catch up to their peers. This may include working on gross motor skills like crawling and walking, or fine motor skills like grasping objects and using utensils.
Difficulty with self-care tasks
If your child is struggling with self-care tasks like dressing, brushing their teeth, or using the bathroom, occupational therapy may be able to help. A therapist can work with your child to develop the skills they need to take care of themselves independently. This can be particularly important for children with physical disabilities or other conditions that affect their ability to perform these tasks.
What to expect
If you notice any of these signs in your child, it is important to talk to your child’s doctor. They can help you determine if occupational therapy is appropriate for your child and refer you to a therapist if necessary.
When your child begins occupational therapy, the therapist will work with you and your child to develop a treatment plan that is tailored to your child’s specific needs. This may include activities to improve fine motor skills, sensory integration exercises, social skills training, and other interventions as needed.
In addition to working with your child during therapy sessions, the therapist may also provide you with strategies to use at home to help your child continue to develop their skills. They may recommend specific toys or activities to encourage fine motor development, or suggest ways to incorporate sensory integration exercises into your child’s daily routine.