Occupational Therapy, also known as OT, is about optimising function in all aspects of life. Children should achieve certain developmental milestones as they grow up. When these milestones are not achieved, children may experience real life challenges, which can especially hinder your child’s ability to perform and cope in the classroom, home and social environments.

Occupational Therapists may wish to look at how a child’s areas of difficulty affect them functionally in the following areas:

Fine Motor: grasp, release, control, manipulation, eye-hand coordination, bi-manual hand skills, and hand dominance

Handwriting: pencil grasp, letter and number formations, page organisation

Sensory Motor: movement planning, body awareness, sensation, coordination, muscle tone

Visual Perception: understanding and interpreting what is seen

Cognition: attention, problem solving

Play: imaginative play, pretend play, interaction with peers, play schemas

Gross Motor: playground skills, hopping, skipping, ball skills, balance, co-ordination

Self-Care: dressing, eating, toileting

Social-Emotional and Self-Esteem: forming and developing peer relationships, confidence

Behavior: dealing with emotional outbursts, difficulty coping with changes in routines, increased anxiety

Environment: functioning in the classroom, minimising distractions, simplifying activities

You may be able to identify that your child needs Occupational therapy if they:

  • have trouble with drawing/writing; including pushing too hard or not hard enough, not being able to develop and maintain a good pencil grasp, and having trouble with size and spacing of their letters.
  • have difficulty with learning gross motor tasks such as riding a bike, balancing, hopping, kicking or ball skills
  • have difficulty with assuming and maintaining good postural control when seated at a desk or when executing gross motor tasks, such as running or skipping
  • are overly sensitive or emotional to sensory stimulation which includes: touch; textures; tastes; sounds; and movement.
  • they are under responsive/show little or no response or reaction to certain movements, touch, sound, or have unusually low emotional responses.
  • they have trouble learning how to dress themselves.
  • midline crossing concerns, poor dominance/hand swapping
  • stubborn and controlling, routine based, difficulty with transitions
  • the child who is unable to participate meaningfully in classroom activities
  • unable to stand in line or participate in group activities
  • restless, constantly fidgeting during table-top tasks
  • seeking bashing/crashing activities
  • visual spatial difficulties
  • lashing out; biting/pinching others