Is your child learning to crawl, walk, or talk slower than other kids their age? Do they struggle to calm down after having a temper tantrum? Or, have you noticed that they just don’t seem to get the hang of washing their hands or buttoning up their shirt? At Little Feet Pediatric Therapy, issues like these are our bread and butter. We have a passion for helping children and their families thrive in all types of environments. We offer both pediatric occupational therapy programs for kids as well as physical therapy, which can help both you and your child with a wide variety of concerns. If you’re unsure whether occupational therapy is right for your child, you’ve come to the right place. Without further ado, let’s look at 6 common signs that your child could benefit from occupational therapy. What Is Occupational Therapy? Simply speaking, occupational therapy is designed to help you maintain, recover, or discover your ability to perform your activities of daily life, or “occupations”. As adults, when we think of the word occupation we often think it’s the same as the word career, but it also relates to the everyday things we do. This includes things like getting dressed, taking a shower, driving our car, or caring for our children. Pretty much every task you encounter throughout your day falls in the category of “occupation” for the sake of therapy. Likewise for children, their “occupation” is play, discovery, and developing their various skills, such as, getting dressed, brushing their teeth, going to the bathroom, etc. This is what we focus on in pediatric occupational therapy. Your child’s occupational therapy can work on improving a variety of factors, including: \tDeveloping their fine motor skills \tDeveloping their gross motor skills \tLearning how to crawl and walk \tlearning how to write and read \tDeveloping self care skills \tDeveloping visual and perceptual skills \tHand eye coordination \tDeveloping their social skills and play skills \tEmotional regulation \tDeveloping their sensory processing ability \tCore development \tLearning to balance and coordinate themselves \tAnd much more Ultimately, the goal of pediatric occupational therapy is to help your child to achieve as much independence as possible and appropriate for their age. How To Tell If Your Child Could Benefit From Occupational Therapy Now that you know a little more about what occupational therapy is, you might be wondering how to know if your child could benefit from it. Booking an assessment with us at Little Feet Pediatric Therapy is the best way to determine which areas your child might be struggling with. However, there are also some signs to look out for at home. Next, we’ll discuss some of the most common signs that your child could benefit from occupational therapy. 1. They Aren’t Meeting Their Developmental Milestones Developmental milestones provide parents and caregivers with a handy tool in tracking their child’s developmental progress. They provide a rough estimate for when you should be expecting your child to reach specific milestones. They include milestones such as crawling, walking, feeding themselves, and talking. For instance, occupational therapy developmental milestones tell us that children typically know how to feed themselves finger food by 10 months and use a spoon by 18-24 months. Occupational therapy is an excellent choice for children who are showing signs of developmental delay. If your child is struggling to reach their developmental milestones, occupational therapy can help address any hurdles they might be facing. Early intervention therapy can help your child catch up to their peers as quickly as possible. 2. They’re Struggling With Their Fine Motor Skills Your fine motor skills help you perform a whole host of small motions needed for a variety of everyday tasks. These include small motions made with your hand and wrist muscles, such as clapping your hands or grasping objects in your fingers. It’s easy to underestimate the importance of fine motor skills. After all, doing simple motions with your hands is a skill which many of us take for granted. Nonetheless, they make it possible for us to perform tasks necessary to our survival, such as eating and bathing. Therefore, children with fine motor skills delay typically struggle learning skills such as drawing, using scissors, and using eating utensils. If your child has been struggling with their fine motor skills, occupational therapy can help. Your child’s occupational therapist can use a variety of tools and activities to improve upon skills such as: \tHandwriting \tVisual motor skills \tFeeding and swallowing \tStrength \tVisual perception \tHand eye coordination \tSelf care skills These skills are also one of the foundations of learning to type with a keyboard. And in today’s modern world, not being able to type will significantly limit your child’s career and creative options later in life. 3. They’re Struggling With Their Gross Motor Skills In contrast, gross motor skills involve large body movements. These include any movements your child makes that require the use of larger parts of their body, such as their arms, legs, or torso, or core. Gross motor movements are complex movements that require the whole body to be performed. If you notice poor gross motor skills, or poor balance, your child may also be struggling with their fine motor skills. This is because both gross and fine motor rely on having a strong base of support. In your body, that base of support is your torso, or core. A strong core provides a stable base for your arms to function. Try sitting up nice and tall and then write your name. Now try it while sitting slumped over. It will take more effort in your wrist and hand to write while slumped over. This results in less legible writing or your hand will tire more quickly. This is how core strength is linked to fine motor skills and is so important for a child’s development. If your child is showing persistent balance or gross motor skill issues, consider booking them for an assessment with us at Little Feet Pediatric Therapy. 4. They’re Struggling With Processing Sensory Inputs As children, we learn that everyone has five basic senses: sight, smell, touch, hearing, and taste. However, many people don’t realize that these senses aren’t experienced the same by everyone. Children with sensory processing disorder may get easily overwhelmed, stressed, or anxious when experiencing certain sensory information. For instance, noises that most of us just consider “background noise”, such as traffic noises, can bring about extreme reactions in children with sensory processing disorder. If your child is struggling to process sensory input, you might notice that they: \tRecoil at loud noises \tDon’t respond when called \tDon’t respond to physical stimuli, such as heat and cold \tDislike being touched \tAre bothered by clothing tags \tShow an aversion to strong scents, such as candles or perfumes \tAre exceptionally clumsy \tResist bedtime \tAre picky eaters If your child has sensory processing disorder, an occupational therapist can help increase tolerance to sensory stimuli while reducing emotional deregulatory responses. RELATED: How To Recognize The Signs Of Sensory Processing Disorder In Your Child 5. They’re Struggling To Develop Self Care Habits Self care skills revolve around your ability to perform the daily tasks necessary for survival, such as feeding, dressing, and hygiene. In children, self care skills include tasks appropriate to a child’s developmental age. For instance, children too young to brush their teeth by themselves can still participate in this self care activity by helping to put the toothpaste on the toothbrush. Self care skills are particularly important to help foster a sense of independence in your child. They are essential for participation in school as well as social outings. Therefore, children struggling with their self care skills may be at risk for future social consequences, such as bullying and low self esteem. At Little Feet Pediatric Therapy, our therapists are skilled at pinpointing the underlying conditions affecting your child’s skill development. We can help your child develop their self care skills in order to catch up with their peers. 6. They’re Struggling With Regulating Their Emotions Children struggling with regulating their emotions typically take longer to calm themselves during stressful and emotional situations. They also might experience temper tantrums more frequently and for longer durations than their peers. If your child is struggling with their emotional regulation, you might notice that they become upset easily without a clear cause. An occupational therapist can help problem solve with your child to pinpoint the underlying cause of their emotional response. Additionally, they can provide self calming strategies to both you and your child in order to deal with and minimize future emotional outbursts. Book Your Appointment WithLittle Feet Pediatric Therapy Today As you can see, occupational therapy is a versatile solution for a variety of issues. If you’re interested in hearing more about how occupational therapy could help you and your child, we hope you’ll give us a call. Book your appointment with Little Feet Pediatric Therapy today.