Signs Your Child Can Benefit From Occupational Therapy
Does your child experience more challenges completing daily tasks at home, school or in the community than other children? Do other children successfully overcome tasks and difficulties without trouble compared to your child? Sometimes, children have difficulty expressing themselves and develop their motor skills at a slower rate than their peers. While every child grows and develops at their own pace, they generally begin developing skills in a predictable pattern.
If you have concerns about your child’s development and functional performance abilities, occupational therapy could provide a solution.
What Is Occupational Therapy?
Pediatric occupational therapy (OT) focuses on helping children develop and strengthen essential motor skills needed to function and socialize. Occupational therapists work with individuals who may have conditions that are physically, mentally, emotionally or developmentally disabling. They help children master their daily living skills so they can grow up to lead full, independent lives. The activities individuals need to engage in to support their well-being, health and development become the focal point for therapy sessions.
Occupational therapy provides a safe and educational way to help and support children growing up. When children participate in activities in different environments, they build awareness of themselves and those around them. Occupational therapists collaborate with parents to identify and meet the needs of children experiencing developmental challenges and delays.
Once therapists understand what a child may need help with, they can prepare different activities to help the child recognize new skills and ways to address emotions.
Does My Child Need Occupational Therapy?
Suggesting to a parent their child may need occupational therapy might confuse or anger them, but if parents take a step back and look at how their child responds to certain situations, they may notice some common behaviors. Do they easily become frustrated and irritated or do they just walk away from a task they deem too difficult? Do they refuse to engage with their peers? There are many telltale signs to answer the question: does my child need occupational therapy?
How Occupational Therapists Can Help
The main goals of occupational therapists are to promote, develop, and maintain skills a kid will need to function at home and at school. Parents want to be certain they choose a Licensed Occupational Therapist or OT.
Since each autistic kid is different, an occupational therapist will determine the child’s areas of challenge and then design an individualized program to address their particular needs.
An occupational therapist will help kids work on cognitive, physical, social, and mental skills. The goal is to make a child more independent and to be able to participate in normal activities. Those include play skills, self care, and learning strategies.
5 Signs Your Child Can Benefit From Occupational Therapy
Children learn about the world through playing and interacting with it by exploration. While they often develop essential life skills that allow them to connect with others and become more independent, some children may experience challenges mastering the skills. Children’s behavior early on can indicate their unique traits and provide insight into what their personalities will be like as they get older. Their characteristics and skills become a reflection of what they learned growing up.
If your child seems to lack the essential experiences other children have, they may benefit from OT. Here are five signs indicating your child may benefit from pediatric occupational therapy:
1. Difficulty Regulating Emotions
Some children who have behavior issues or experience trouble expressing themselves may not have the skills to regulate their emotions. If your child is having trouble getting along with others, handling challenging situations without outbursts or behaving effectively, they may find it challenging to regulate their emotions appropriately.
Occupational therapy for child behavior issues can help teach children how to manage their emotions so they can establish positive relationships. OT can also help children understand the differences between positive and negative emotions to learn how to express them safely and cope with stress.
2. Poor Fine or Gross Motor Skills
Developing motor and gross skills is natural for children as they begin growing and understanding the world. Motor skills help children control their bodies and encourage coordination while moving different parts of the body at the same time. Your child may have poor motor skills if they have trouble:
- Understanding left from right
- Coordinating movement from both sides of the body
- Catching, throwing or kicking balls
Pediatric occupational therapists understand that every child develops differently. They can help your child by evaluating their gross and fine motor skills and creating a specific intervention plan that works on improving your child’s skills.
3. Difficulty Achieving Age-Appropriate Milestones
Kids develop common skills as they age, like holding a conversation, having good manners and learning how to read and write. If your child is behind their peers in developing those skills, an occupational therapist can create activities to complete and begin helping them achieve childhood milestones.
4. Sensory Processing Problems
Sometimes children who are behind in developing essential skills are more sensitive and have sensory processing challenges. Sensory processing issues can involve an aversion to light, touch, sound, smell or anything else that can overwhelm your child’s senses. Some children may also have trouble understanding the information and emotions they receive from feeling the senses. Sensory issues can lead to behavioral problems and hinder essential functional and individual growth development.
While children may continue experiencing sensory issues, they can learn to adapt to situations and find healthy ways to cope with OT.
5. Acting as a Bystander or Observer on the Playground
When children play on the playground, it’s natural to explore the space and play with others. Playing on the playground helps children develop social and problem-solving skills. If a child has a hard time playing with others on the playground, they may not have developed proper social or play skills yet. A child could experience a developmental delay if they are more of a bystander or observer while on the playground. They could also show other signs, including:
- Needing an adult to initiate play
- Watching siblings or peers play instead of joining
- Keeping a distance from others
OT can help address these socialization difficulties, empowering your child with relationship-building skills and social awareness so they can learn how to interact with their peers.
Benefits of Occupational Therapy
If you notice any signs of developmental challenges or delays, your child could benefit from occupational therapy. Pediatric occupational therapy helps children gain the skills they need to reach their potential and thrive in life. The reasons for pediatric OT are endless, but the ultimate goal is for children to have a support system that helps them learn independence and problem-solving skills. When a child attends occupational therapy sessions, they can begin learning the skills they missed building on.
Pediatric occupational therapists will help children in almost every way they can. Through children’s occupational therapy, children can enjoy the benefits of:
- Improving gross and fine motor skills
- Learning basic tasks through routine activities
- Building confidence, self-awareness, self-esteem and autonomy
- Managing sensory processing issues
- Sustaining positive behavior in different environments
- Developing coping mechanisms
- Establishing relationships and maintaining them
Occupational therapy can help improve children’s lives and teach essential skills so they can grow independently. Your child deserves to thrive and understand themselves as they build skills and start interacting with others — just some of the benefits children’s OT can provide.
Find Kid-Friendly Occupational Therapy With Kids SPOT
When you begin noticing signs of developmental delay in your child, occupational therapy is an excellent resource to help your child develop necessary life skills. Kids SPOT is proud to serve patients from birth to 21 years old affected by congenital, physical, learning, developmental or injury difficulties. We strive to help all children improve and thrive during every stage of development. Our occupational therapy services can help kids master and strengthen their abilities to perform daily living skills.
At Kids SPOT, we have a family of companies that can work with your child and provide excellent occupational therapy services. Check out our locations page for a location near you. When you’re ready, you can request an appointment today by filling out our form.