Occupational therapy helps build independence and skills necessary for day-to-day life. By focusing on the completion of small goals focused in areas of daily life, this form of therapy can make a huge difference in the lives of children. There are many signs any parent or caregiver can be alert for when determining if a child needs help.
Developmental delay is a major concern for any adult in the lives of children. This is indicated by a lack of skills similar to other children in the same age group, usually shown by not reaching developmental milestones, or learning and playing at an age appropriate level.
A child lacking in fine or gross motor skills would benefit greatly from occupational therapy. Fine motor skill delays are an inability to properly control small movements with the hands, mouth, and feet. A child with fine motor skill delays would have trouble with writing, tracing, and drawing, or using silverware and straws. Gross motor skill delays would affect a child’s balance, muscle tone and control, and coordination, commonly noticed through poor hand-eye coordination, poor balance, and difficulty climbing.
Difficulty with visual processing, or understanding the information the eyes are receiving, is another delay that can be improved with therapy. Children with this difficulty may have trouble recognizing and copying shapes or letters, copying information off another source, and find it hard to track objects with their eyes.
If a child has an issue drinking from a cup or straw, is excessively loosing food from the mouth, or drooling, the child may have oral motor/sensory delays. Other signs of this are awkward chewing habits, like chewing with only one part of the mouth, or obsessive eating habits based around texture or shape.
Over-sensitivity to sound, touch and movement, or unresponsiveness to stimuli such as hot, cold, or minor injuries may indicate an issue with sensory processing. Other signs of this are an inability to be still, and little to no self-control over emotions or behaviors.
A child who doesn’t engage with others, doesn’t understand sharing and taking turns, or wont join in play with peers, may have social and play skill delays. Focusing too much energy one repeating task is another sign as well.
Learning challenges show themselves as issues with concentration and focus, and manifest in a refusal to follow instructions or complete schoolwork, reversing numbers and letters frequently, and a difficulty picking up new lessons.
Fortunately, occupational therapy can help reduce the impact these delays have on a child’s life as they grow. Any adult in the life of a child exhibiting any of these delays should be encouraged to look into this type of therapy. Not only to help the child overcome any difficulties in their day-to-day lives, but to also set a solid foundation for an independent, productive future.