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Occupational Therapy: Beyond Fine Motor Skills

May 18, 2023

Occupational Therapy

Our days are filled to the brim. We follow routines, engage in play, communicate with others, eat, and so much more. When it comes to occupational therapy, these life skills and everyday tasks are what we help kiddos improve. Many people associate occupational therapy with fine motor skills (smaller movements with hands, wrists, and fingers). While this is certainly true, there are many other skills that can be addressed through occupational therapy. Put simply, occupational therapy is so much more! 

Sensory Skills and Development

Our world is incredibly vast. There’s so much to take in! For some kiddos though, certain sensations can pose a problem. Sensory processing disorder is a complex condition that can affect any of our senses. Overstimulation or under-stimulation can occur and make for challenging situations. An occupational therapist will be able to help your child move outside of their comfort zone and better connect with their senses and the surrounding world.

occupational therapy

Cognitive (Thinking) Skills  

All of us have a unique way of thinking, and for some kids, it’s clear that they may need a little help in rounding out those skills. In your child, you may notice them:

  • unable to concentrate, maintain attention, or stay focused
  • struggling in school or with learning new material
  • making similar mistakes over and over again
  • being forgetful 

An occupational therapist can help your child straighten their thinking cap and overcome these everyday obstacles. For example, an occupational therapist can break tasks down into simpler steps and teach your child strategies that will best serve their unique thought processes. 

Social Skills

Are you living with an overly ambitious chatterbox? Or maybe a quiet youngster that detests to speaking to anyone new? Much of the time, these little ones could use a boost in the social skill department. If your child struggles with social skills in any way, you may notice problems with peer and family interactions, dislike of new environments, and/or issues with turn-taking. An occupational therapist will work to help your little one connect with others and form stronger bonds. They’re extremely creative in using their resources such as working with visuals or providing real-life conversations in a safe and caring environment. If you’re not careful, you might even have a master communicator on your hands soon. 

occupational therapy

Behavioral Skills and Self-Regulation

Please, behave. It’s likely that we’ve all thought or said that once to our kids, but behavior and self-regulation are rather complex skills that deserve greater explanation and thought. When we talk about self-regulation, we’re referring to the ability to model appropriate behavior and emotions based on the situation or task at hand. Self-regulation also relates to making sense of our emotional, sensory, and cognitive experiences. Your child would benefit from seeing an occupational therapist if they are indifferent to feelings, dangerous to self or others, responds poorly to discipline, unpredictable, or struggles with managing emotions. An occupational therapist can be an excellent guide as they provide the right tools for improved behavior and self-regulation. 

occupational therapy

Occupational Therapy & Visual Processing

Seeing visually may seem straightforward, but remember that kids are still making sense of the world. For a child that needs assistance with visual processing (understanding what we see), you may find that they 

  • struggle with spacing out letters and copying shapes
  • confuse their right and left sides
  • often lose their place while reading
  • find making eye contact challenging

Ultimately, seeing and interpretation are different concepts. Just because you see the letters that you’re writing doesn’t mean you understand their spacing and placement. Your child has a lot to make sense of when they use their eyes, so an occupational therapist can zero in on sharpening these skills, making everything from school to interacting a lot easier.  

If you feel your child may need help in any of these areas, learn more about occupational therapy today.