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Does your child face difficulties with daily activities at home, school, socially, or with their self-care? If so, an occupational therapist might be able to help your child.

An occupational therapist, with the support of the family, can help improve your child’s play habits, learning skills, and recommend tools to aid participation in meaningful activities. Occupational therapy will help your child develop the skills for activities of daily living if they experience difficulties in the areas outlined below.

 

 

Gross motor skills

Gross motor skills help us move, coordinate and balance different body parts. They involve larger muscles that help us control our body. A child, being behind in movement, may have difficulty with the following:

  • Head control, rolling, sitting, crawling, walking etc…
  • Seating and positioning
  • Coordination of movement (running, jumping, stair climbing)
  • Coordinating both sides of the body
  • Understanding the concept of right and left
  • Motor planning
  • Crossing-midline
  • Muscle weakness
  • Poor ball skills
  • Poor balance
  • Avoids tasks and games that require gross motor skills

Fine motor skills 

Fine motor skills are small movements made with fingers, toes, lips, tongue, and wrists, like the following:

  • Interacting with objects/toys/puzzle
  • Finger isolation
  • Pre-printing skills (coloring, painting, chalk)
  • Printing skills (pencil grasp, letter formation, legibility)

Feeding/Oral Motor

Oral motor or oral sensory skills control muscle movements of the face and oral area, such as the lips, tongue, jaw, and soft palate. If oral motor and sensory skills are delayed, it can affect the following:

  • Oral motor functioning (sucking, chewing, biting)
  • Excessive drooling
  • Chewing in the front of the mouth, rather than on the molars
  • Difficulty using a cup at an age-appropriate time
  • Difficulty with drinking from a straw at an age-appropriate time
  • Being excessively picky, preferring certain types or textures of food/Addressing food aversions and restrictive eaters

Sensory processing difficulties 

Sensory processing is making sense of information that we receive through our senses, like sound and smell. Being oversensitive to the environment is one of the symptoms:

  • Over/under sensitivity to sound or touch or to certain sensations (e.g., high pain tolerance, not noticing cuts/bruises)
  • Hyper activity
  • Easily distracted by visual or auditory stimuli
  • Emotionally reactive
  • Difficulty coping with change
  • Inability to calm self when upset

Visual Processing

Visual processing allows our brain to interpret visual information. This process is responsible for the development of the following skills:

  • Recognizing letters
  • Copying shapes or letters
  • Copying from the board or another paper

Social skills 

Social skills are skills help us have relationships, and understand people around us. The following skills help us bond with others:

  • Interacting socially and engaging with family and peers
  • Difficulty adapting to new environments
  • Delayed language skills
  • Overly focused on one subject (e.g., space, universe, dinosaurs, trains)
  • Can't cope in the school environment
  • Sharing, turn taking, communication skills, social stories, empathy
  • Does not join in with peers/siblings when playing

Self-regulation/emotional regulation 

  • Understanding and recognizing our internal feelings and knowing how to express how we are feeling, what we need, and how to calm or excite yourself when feeling dis-regulated (For example: sad, bored, tired, happy, calm, ready to learn, frustrated, worried, excited, loss of control, mad, angry scared)
  • Zones of Regulation

Learning difficulties

Learning challenges, sometimes called learning disabilities, are another type of developmental delay. If your child is challenged by one of the following, you may want to consult an occupational therapist:

  • Unable to concentrate and focus at school
  • Easily distracted
  • Difficulty following instructions and completing work
  • Tires easily with school work
  • Poor impulse control
  • Hyperactivity or low energy
  • Not keeping up with workload at school
  • Difficulty learning new material
  • Makes letter or number reversals after age seven

It is important to remember that children are different and develop different skills at different pace. However, early intervention is the best key to help your child develop any of the skill areas above. Call an occupational therapist to help you and your child to reach the necessary milestones!

Occupational therapist helps when:

  • Unable to concentrate and focus at school
  • Easily distracted
  • Difficulty following instructions and completing work
  • Tires easily with school work
  • Poor impulse control
  • Hyperactivity or low energy
  • Not keeping up with workload at school
  • Difficulty learning new material
  • Makes letter or number reversals after age seven