Does my child need occupational therapy?
Years ago, occupational therapy was reserved for the mentally ill and the seriously injured or permanently physically disabled. Today, occupational therapists work with children and adults with a wide variety of issues, many of which are temporary or comparatively mild.
Children may be referred to occupational therapy for reasons such as fine or gross motor skill impairment, developmental problems, sensory processing issues, or difficulties interacting with other children. In some cases, occupational therapy can be of great benefit. In others, however, referral to occupational therapy may be unnecessary because the issue in question will in all likelihood resolve itself over time. For example, preschoolers and early elementary school children are regularly referred to OT when a teacher notices a student has difficulty with handwriting: specifically, with the pencil grip. For some students, particularly if other related concerns have come up, the pencil grip problem will disappear on its own as the school year progresses. For others, the pencil grip issue is only the tip of the iceberg. When there are other obvious impairments, an OT evaluation is recommended.
Today's OT therapists have a range of tools and techniques at their disposal. Kids who work with them frequently show phenomenal improvement relatively quickly. Though some of the methods they employ like catching a ball, working a picture puzzle, grasping beads or toys and placing them in containers, and so on may seem to have little to do with addressing fundamental problems, parents are often very pleasantly surprised to see what can be achieved over time.