Does My Child Need Occupational Therapy?
What is occupational therapy?
According to the World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT), “occupational therapy (OT) is a client-centred health profession concerned with promoting health and well-being through occupation. The primary goal of OT is to enable people to participate in the activities of everyday life.
Occupational Therapists achieve this outcome by working with people and communities to enhance their ability to engage in the occupations they want to, need to, or are expected to do, or by modifying the occupation or the environment to better support their occupational engagement (WFOT 2012).”
How do I know if my child needs help?
Here are eight essential aspects to consider in order to decide whether your child requires occupational therapy:
1. Growth Moratorium
Child’s physical and mental growth should be examined regularly. There is generally no need to worry if there is a slight delay in growth. However, when the child is unable to perform basic physical movements, such as crawling, sitting and walking, a doctor's intervention is required to identify any cause for concern and getting referred to the appropriate professional, if necessary
2.Visual Sensory Processing
Visual or Optical processing is related to understanding what the child can see/perceive. He/she might face difficulty in:
Understanding spaces between objects and letters
Copying shapes and notes
Understanding the difference between left and right and
Visual tracking, due to poor eyesight
3. Oral Sensory Processing
Toddlers chew everything that comes to their hands. With proper observation, it is easy to analyse issues related to oral sensory processing. Do they seem to be drooling excessively or prefer chewing food using the front of their mouth instead of using their molars? Are they picky about what they want to eat? A few other signs to watch out for - when given a drink with a straw, they might not be able to drink it. They might even appear lazy and tired after finishing a meal or they might let out excessive liquid from their lips while being breastfed.
4. Audio Sensory Processing
Observe if your child is extremely sensitive to sound or has amplified irritability to loud noise, tender touch, or even certain movements. Do you find that they are unmindful of auditory stimuli?
5. Progress in Education
Observe if your child finds it difficult to focus on school activities or is easily distracted. If they struggle to understand simple instructions or have low impulse control, causing them to become hyperactive, it could be a sign that they might need occupational therapy. Such behaviour patterns obstruct their work completion, which in turn, makes it harder for them to keep up with academic activities.
6. Recreation Activities
If the child is physically overactive, they can be seen constantly moving, jumping, crashing or bumping into something. They might be under-responsive to certain emotions like pain and fail to notice cuts/bruises. Your child may be fidgety and perpetually need adult supervision to take up recreational activities. Their focus shifts quickly from one activity to another as their attention span is short.
7.Proficiency in Fine Motor Skills/Dexterity
Fine motor skills assist in the coordination of hands and fingers with eye contact (i.e. the objective is to make sure brain, nervous system and muscles work together). If there is a lack of synchrony between hands and vision, they might face difficulty accomplishing even the simplest tasks, such as holding a pencil or a spoon.
8. Gross Motor Skills
Gross motor skills help a child sit, walk or roll over. Children who face a lack of gross motor skills appear clumsy and uncoordinated. They might not like taking the stairs as they face difficulty going up and down. Their muscle tone may be high or low and they might find it hard to coordinate both sides of their body, as they cannot differentiate right and left.
If you have any queries regarding occupational therapy services or would like to have a professional diagnose if your child needs occupational therapy, please feel free to contact us.