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10 Signs to identify that your child needs Occupational Therapy

For kids, playing is their occupation. It lays the foundation for development of various life skills. Children learn by exploring their environment. They learn how to navigate the world around them, build a critical understanding of societal norms, and develop key relationships with other people by playing only. Some children are unable to acquire some of the essential life skills they need to accomplish on their own and somewhat lack to fulfill their general demands of life. They might experience issues with gross or fine motor skills, maintaining a two way communication or expressing their needs.

But there is hope!

A pediatric occupational therapist can help provide those young children with known techniques and strategies in order to successfully thrive and grow into healthy, independent adults. An occupational therapist can make a big difference in the life of children having developmental delay by bridging the barriers in their growth.


The purpose of Occupational Therapy is to make individuals independent in all aspects of their lives and to make the individual get back to his occupation.

Occupational therapy is a treatment that supports a child and their family when they experience difficulties in the areas outlined below.


  1. Developmental Delay

Developmental delay means a child is not able to achieve those skills that are common during a particular age or during a particular time period. This means somewhere the child is lagging behind.

  • Not achieving age appropriate developmental milestones like neck holding, rolling over, sitting, crawling, walking
  • Not learning age appropriate play and social skills


  1. Gross motor skills

Gross motor skills are related to movement, strength and balance development. It helps us to control our body by coordinating larger muscle groups of arms, legs and other body parts. A child struggling with gross motor skills may appear clumsy or uncoordinated and may have difficulty with

  • Climbing Stairs
  • Jumping and Running
  • Throwing and catching a ball
  • Poor concept of Right and left
  • Poor Balance
  • Coordinating both sides of the body
  • Fearful of feet leaving the ground


  1. Fine motor skills

Fine motor skills are those small movements in which we use our fingers, wrists, and toes to do precise work like holding a spoon, turning pages. If the child is facing difficulty with fine motor skills he may struggle with

  • Holding a small object or pencil
  • Putting things into a container
  • Buttoning and unbuttoning
  • Coloring, Drawing, Painting, Scribbling
  • Tying shoe laces
  • Not developing a hand dominance at an age appropriate time
  • Using scissors
  • Hand manipulation (manipulating toys and puzzles)


  1. Visual Processing

It is the process we use to make sense of what we see. It is the brain’s ability to interpret visual information. Visual processing helps children in reading, writing and movement. Without it, children may find daily tasks extremely stressful. Difficulty in visual processing can be identified as:

  • Problem in copying from board or another paper
  • Problem with recognizing letters and numbers
  • Difficulty in finding one object among others
  • Difficulty with spacing and sizes of letters
  • Difficulty in identifying information from picture, charts, graphs


  1. Sensory Processing

Sensory processing is making sense of information that we get through our senses like touch, smell,vision. Child may be over responsive or under responsive and may show these symptoms:

  • Overly sensitive or heightened response to light, touch and sound.
  • Under-responsive to certain sensations (e.g., high pain tolerance, doesn’t notice cuts/bruises)
  • Constantly moving, jumping, crashing, bumping
  • Gets distracted easily
  • Difficulty coping with change


  1. Oral Motor/Oral Sensory

Oral motor skills are control of muscle movements in the face and oral area, such as the lips, jaw, tongue, and soft palate. Delayed oral motor and sensory skills can be identified as:

  • Excessive drooling
  • Inability to drink from straw at an age appropriate time
  • Chewing food in front of mouth rather than on molars
  • Lengthy bottle or breast feeding
  1. Social Interaction skills

Social interaction skills are skills that help us have relationships with others and understand those around us. These skills also help children to express themselves. Your child has delayed social interaction skills if he/she has:

  • Difficulty in sharing toys and games
  • Difficulty in engaging with peers and family members
  • Can’t engage in group activities
  • Can’t cope up in school environment


  1. Learning challenges

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

  • Unable to concentrate and focus
  • Distracts easily
  • Difficulty learning new concepts
  • Difficulty in following instructions and completing the task
  • Hyperactivity or low energy


  1. Play Skills

Play skills are really important for a child’s development. A child can gain self-confidence, learn problem solving, and develop social skills through play. Your child may be developmentally delayed if they show one of the following symptoms:

  • Does not explore toys appropriately
  • Moves aimlessly without any purposeful play
  • Participates in repetitive play for several hours (lining up toys)
  • Difficulty with imitative play
  • Needs adult’s guidance to initiate play


  1. Activities of Daily Life (ADL)

Activities of daily living (ADL) are the fundamental skills typically needed to manage basic physical needs. If your kid is struggling with the following things, then he/she is having impaired ADL skills:

  • Unable to dress and undress himself/herself
  • Unable to comb his/her hair on his own at an age appropriate time
  • Difficulty in feeding and grooming themselves

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