5 Signs That Your Child Needs Occupational Therapy
Occupational Therapists work with individuals of all ages, children and adults. Occupational Therapy is used for various reasons and can become a necessity at any point in time. Eg, a child who needs to relearn skills after an injury or illness. However, the need for occupational therapy might arise much earlier. Sometimes the need might be obvious and at times, it might take closer and regular observation to identify that your child needs OT.
Signs That Your Child Needs Occupational Therapy
1. Not achieving age-appropriate skills
Developmental milestones are only rough estimates of what we can expect a child to do at various ages. Every child develops in their own unique way and at their own pace. However, these milestones can serve as a guide of what babies should be doing when they reach a particular age. Generally categorised into physical, speech and language, and social skills, they can tell us a lot about where our children stand in their development. All children do not fall into the same curve of development. Some begin to babble early on, some skip the crawling stage and some might begin walking late. While a variety of reasons can be responsible, it is important to track your child’s development if you see them consistently missing milestones or lagging behind typical timelines largely. If your child is lagging behind in a combination of skills, they might have a developmental delay that will need intervention.
2. Difficulty with fine motor skills
These are skills that require movements made with fingers, toes, lips, tongue and wrists. Eg, holding a spoon, pulling up a zipper, holding and using a pencil at the expected age or manipulating a toy or puzzle. If your child has difficulty with these movements and isn’t developing fine motor skills, expected at their age, it is advisable to get an assessment done.
3. Difficulty with processing sensory stimuli
We use our senses to process sensory information from the environment. Sometimes children have trouble processing these stimuli, either by being oversensitive or undersensitive to the sensory stimuli. Some indicators are having excessive reactions to certain sounds or smells, under reactivity to pain or smells, poor attention and being extremely picky about food. All children might be sensitive to certain sensory stimuli but when the challenges become chronic and interfere with day to day activities, they need attention.
4. Inadequate social and play skills
We are social beings by nature. Establishing eye contact, interaction with caregivers, babbling and responding to the people around are the earliest signs of social interaction. These social skills might be absent or inadequate in some children. They may have language and communication delays, difficulty in talking or playing with peers and adapting to the school environment. Play is also an important aspect of childhood development. If your child shows challenges with exploring toys, engages in repetitive play for long periods of time,(eg lining up toys) or doesn’t engage in purposeful play, they can benefit from occupational therapy.
5. Challenges with gross motor skills
These are skills that require balance, movement and coordination. Crawling, walking, climbing, walking up and down stairs etc. These movements require the use and coordination of larger muscles. When children struggle with gross motor skills, they might appear clumsy, uncoordinated or unsteady on their feet, at ages they should be confident in these movements. With OT, children get plenty of practice with the right exercises that help them with coordinating and using these muscles to develop age-appropriate gross motor skills.
Occupational therapy can help your child with a range of age-appropriate behaviours and skills, building up on their strengths to catch up on areas they find challenging. We must remember that therapy is not just for crises. It can help your child explore their potential, despite the challenges they face. If your child has difficulty with day to day activities at home, adapting at school or needs help with social and play skills, OT can help them. Reach out to our Occupational Therapists at KinderPass to find out how we can help you.
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