4 Signs that Your Child May Need Occupational Therapy
If you’ve started to notice difficulties in your child’s school performance, you may think your child needs a visit with a psychologist or may not be using enough energy throughout the day. You may be worried and wonder what you can do to help. Even though you won’t be able to see your child work in the classroom, there are some signs you can identify outside of school that may indicate that he or she could benefit from occupational therapy.
Inability to focus
If your child is having trouble focusing on his homework, it may be a sign that he’s having difficulty concentrating in class. Most children won’t entirely focus on completing a homework assignment, but if your child gets distracted by noises or movement at home, he might also have difficulty paying attention at school and may not be getting the most out of his education. This is not necessarily a sign of attention-deficit disorder (ADD). While many may have problems focusing, children with ADD will frequently display:
- Impulsivity – trouble censoring words and emotions and will interrupt people
- Overactivity/Hyperactivity – issues staying still and wandering off when they’re expected to remain seated
- Inattention – inability to focus even when trying to and may get tired from working so hard to pay attention
- Distractibility – distraction stemming from the brain’s struggle to filter out extra information such as a sound or an itch that would cause the child to lose focus
Occupational therapy can help children stay focused by:
- Allowing sensory breaks into the child’s day – allowing the child to walk around at regular intervals
- Providing products to ease their stress, such as therapy fidget toys and chewable pencil tops and jewelry
- Enabling special seating and testing in a separate room to help avoid sensory overload
Poor Motor Skills
Another sign that your child may need occupational therapy is if he struggles with necessary motor skills. A few examples of poor motor skills are:
- Difficulty holding a pencil correctly
- Difficulty erasing completely
- Difficulty cutting, folding, or coloring
If your child seems like he’s struggling with these basic motor skills, you may need to consider occupational therapy. Occupational therapy can help your child improve motor skills by:
- Implementing activities that will develop hand and finger muscles such as popping bubble wrap
- Improving hand-eye coordination with customized exercises
- Using games like Connect 4 to enhance fine motor skills
In addition to these activities and exercises, occupational therapists may use other techniques like letting your child set a dinner table by using two hands to carry and balance a tray.
Typing difficulties entail more than slow typing speed compared to peers. From not being able to remember where the keys are, to not being able to move his fingers correctly, typing struggles come in many forms. These difficulties are all components of manual dexterity and visual memory which occupational therapy can improve.
Many children struggle with math at some point. When a child has difficulty learning math, the finger is usually pointed at the teacher or the actual lesson plan. Sometimes, a child could be struggling with math problems because he has a hard time lining up the numbers correctly. Without being able to line up the numbers, solving math problems and equations becomes an impossible feat for your child. This could stem from an issue with spatial organization which can also be improved with occupational therapy.
Occupational therapy plays an important role in improving a child’s ability to focus and learn in school. At Ardor Health Solutions, we use our staffing services to provide more opportunities for occupational therapists to apply their knowledge to help patients across the nation. Check out our blog if you’d like to learn more about occupational therapy and its uses!