When is it beneficial to use an OT? How they can help your child

Occupational Therapists provide such a wide range of support services for a myriad of areas, so they are often the first port of call when parents, working alongside their school, determine that professional intervention and assessment are necessary.

An Occupational Therapist’s main areas of focus are:

Fine Motor Skills: Fine motor skills are the coordination of small muscles (such as the hands and fingers) and require complex manual dexterity. These skills are essential for any activity requiring the use of tools, like eating, writing and cutting with scissors. If your child is having difficulty with their handwriting, pencil grip, and activities requiring other dextrous hand movements, they may benefit from seeing an Occupational Therapist.

Gross Motor Skills: Gross motor skills are the coordination of larger muscle groups needed for major body movements, like sitting, walking, jumping and participating in sports. Occupational Therapists can support people having difficulty with balance, strength, endurance or coordination, making physical activity more of a challenge.

Play Skills and Socialisation: Play may seem like an element of life that comes naturally to children, but it is still an important skill and children can have challenges with it… just like any other skill! Play involves imagination, communication, socialisation and being able to problem solve, complete puzzles etc. These ‘play skills’ become ‘real world’ skills as children grow into adults.

Visual Processing: Visual processing involves the skills a person needs to interpret what they are seeing. This can include being able to accurately remember visual information, classifying skills (for example, matching two objects that are the same, particularly if an element is different, or the object is missing a component), find an object if the background is busy, as well as the visual skills needed for hand-eye coordination. You can easily see how these skills transfer into everyday activities in later life, as well as assist in childhood learning.

You may identify your child needs support with visual processing if they have challenges with reading and writing and remembering spatial and written information. Reversing letters or symbols frequently when writing, or having difficulty reading words or patterns in the correct order (frequently skipping over things, or re-reading the same lines), can be indicators.

Sensory Processing: Sensory processing is the way in which the body interprets the information it receives from the surrounding environment (textures, sounds, visual information). Some people are more sensitive to sensory information, meaning they can become overwhelmed and overstimulated when there is too much to process at once, or when they experience certain types of stimuli. Working with an Occupational Therapist can help in managing these experiences.

What is the first step in helping my child?

It can be difficult to know when the right moment is for professional intervention, so the best starting point is to discuss any concerns with the educational and child development specialists in your life – communicate with teachers, school administration and qualified early years specialists at your day care or after school care provider. Our tutors at My Academy are always happy to have a conversation with you about any concerns and to give their own feedback and perspective on student progress, including if an OT assessment is something they would recommend.