Michelle Beck, MS, OTR/L

The question I am asked most frequently is, “What’s occupational therapy?”  The runner-up is, “Do you think my child needs occupational therapy?” In this blog post, I will discuss common signs and symptoms that may warrant intervention by a skilled therapist.

In the Classroom:

  • The child has difficulty with or avoids fine motor work such as writing, coloring, and cutting. They may struggle to assemble puzzles, hold a pencil correctly, or use too much or too little force when using a pencil or scissors.  The child complains of pain or fatigue when engaged in fine motor activities.
  • The child slouches at the table, props him/herself on the table or wall, or generally has poor posture. He or she is unable to sit still during circle time or quiet learning time.
  • The child may become anxious or act out when standing in a line. They report that other children are hitting or touching them while standing close to others, which is contradicted by a supervising teacher or classroom aide.
  • The child struggles to pay attention or appears to tune out/ignore instruction. He or she may jump from one activity to the next so that it is disruptive and interferes with classroom activities.

At Home and in the Community:

  • The child has a hard time completing tasks with background noise such as a TV or radio on. They struggle to find items in a room that seem obvious to others. This child may stop what they are doing in order to notice all movement in the environment.
  • The child loses their balance easily, bumps into others or stationary furniture, or falls more frequently than their peers. He or she may be a playtime “bystander”- avoiding playground equipment, messy play, noisy places, or agreeing to only play one or two simple games they already know how to play.
  • The child needs extra help to get dressed- struggling to orient clothing and manipulate buttons or zippers. He or she may appear distressed during bath time or during grooming routines.
  • The child is a very picky eater- preferring only certain textures, tastes, colors, or temperatures.
  • The child is stubborn, demanding, or uncooperative more often than their peers. He or she may have temper tantrums that last for a long period of time and are difficult to recover from. The child may become anxious or distressed when their routine is disrupted. The child needs positive support and encouragement to try new or challenging activities.

Every child is unique and specific deficits present themselves in different ways. If you have concerns about your child or any issues your family might be experiencing that aren’t covered in this blog, please reach out to your pediatrician or a therapist here at CommuniKids. We love collaborating as a team and supporting families. Through a comprehensive evaluation and treatment, we will be able to identify specific deficits, provide home exercise programs, and collaborate with teachers to ensure your child meets their full potential.