We all want to see our children develop, grow and thrive. Monitoring your child’s milestones can help you determine whether they need extra support to reach their full potential, and with pediatric occupational therapy, you can help them reach those goals! Pediatric occupational therapy helps children facing challenges with their physical, sensory or cognitive functioning. Working with an OT can help your child gain independence in all areas of life, and these types of therapists also help kids who don’t have any type of developmental delay, but need help coping with their environment.
Pediatric OT helps children reach important developmental milestones and improve their quality of life by strengthening the skills needed for school, home, and social situations.
What Is An Occupational Therapy Milestone?
- Occupational therapy milestones can be divided into four main categories: fine motor skills, gross motor skills, visual motor skills, and self-care. Milestones are not only important for occupational therapists to track, but they are also useful for parents and caretakers. Knowing what milestones to expect can help you better understand your child’s development and provide an opportunity to celebrate their accomplishments!
- They can be assessed by observing a child’s ability to perform tasks such as pouring water from one cup to another, cutting with scissors, buttoning clothing, and more. A therapist may also assess the child’s ability to perform these skills under different circumstances—for example, when standing on one foot or with their eyes closed.
- Fine motor skills, which involve the small muscles in your hands that you use to hold and manipulate items, are an essential part of childhood development. Young children develop fine motor skills through activities such as drawing with crayons, building with Legos, and writing letters. These activities help your child develop the small muscles in their fingers and hands.
- You can also help your child develop fine motor skills by requiring them to complete tasks such as cutting with scissors, using a pencil or pen to draw on paper, or building towers with blocks. The more opportunities your child has to practice using these small muscles, the better they will be at using them later in life.
- Gross motor skills are the large muscles of your body that allows your child to navigate their environment in a coordinated way. These skills include balance, coordination, and the ability to run, jump and climb. In order to improve gross motor skills, there are many things you can do.
- One way is simply playing outside with your child. You can also encourage them to try new sports and activities that require coordination such as gymnastics or dance classes. They are very important for children’s overall development as they help them explore their world and interact with others.
- Your child’s ability to use their eyes and hands together efficiently is considered a measure of your visual motor skills. A child will use their eyes to guide their hands as they perform tasks such as drawing, coloring, and cutting. If your child has the inability to use both their eyes and hands together, this may be a sign of a visual motor deficit. Children with this type of deficit often have trouble performing tasks such as drawing or coloring.
- You can test this by having your child draw lines on a piece of paper or cut out shapes from colored paper. If your child has the inability to use both their eyes and hands together, this may be a sign of a visual motor deficit.
- Finally, self-care encompasses how you take care of your basic physical needs—such as feeding yourself and keeping clean. If you are a parent of a child who has autism or is on the spectrum, then you know that self-care is vital to their well-being. Children with autism spend most of their time focusing on the world around them instead of taking care of themselves. This can lead to physical problems such as dehydration or malnutrition or simply poor hygiene.
- Occupational therapy milestones are a combination of these four categories—each one marks your child’s growth as they learn to do new things. These milestones can be used to identify when your child has reached the next level of development. If your child isn’t meeting these milestones, it’s a good idea to talk with their occupational therapist. They can help you figure out whether or not there is a problem, as well as how to address any issues that may arise.
What skills can an OT help with?
- Occupational therapy is an important part of your child’s treatment. It helps children learn how to participate in everyday activities such as eating, dressing, and playing. Occupational therapists also help kids develop skills that will help them later in life, like handwriting and cooking.
- Occupational therapy can help your child in almost every facet of their life. A few key examples are:
- Self-Care Skills: By completing daily “self-care” tasks, a child can build independence. OTs may help children learn how to dress by including fasteners (buttons, zippers) in their clothes or teaching them how to tie shoe laces.
- School Readiness: When children have difficulty with such tasks as handwriting, it can affect their ability to succeed academically. OTs can help remediate this by building strength in the hands and arms and improving pencil grasp for increased accuracy on paper.
- Play Skills: Play is crucial for children to gain social, cognitive, and motor skills. Occupational therapists can help a child develop fine motor, strength, and coordination so they learn how to use toys/their bodies appropriately during playtime!
- Social/Emotional Regulation: When children struggle to self-regulate, they can have difficulty relating well with others and coping with stress. OTs can help children improve their self- awareness, develop more effective ways to regulate themselves, and find enjoyable activities that prevent overstimulation.
4 Signs that your child may benefit from OT
While some children may seem to need less help than others, it’s important that you know the signs your child may benefit from occupational therapy. Occupational therapy is not a “life sentence”, but rather an effective tool for helping kids reach their potential by gaining independence and confidence. The best way to determine if your child is ready for occupational therapy is to watch him or her in their everyday environment. If you notice that your child has trouble with fine motor skills, such as tying shoes or using utensils, then it may be time for occupational therapy. Other signs include:
If your child strongly prefers certain sensory inputs and strongly dislikes others such as preferring certain textures or surfaces, and avoiding others, they may have a sensory processing disorder. This can manifest in many ways, including a dislike of certain foods, smells, or temperatures. It also includes an inability to process certain types of stimuli in their environment and may include other symptoms such as clumsiness or difficulty with balance.
Difficulty with getting dressed
If your child has difficulty dressing themselves or tying their own shoelaces they may have a motor planning problem. This is a condition that affects the ability to plan and organize movements, which can make tasks like dressing yourself or tying your shoes difficult.
If your child avoids eye contact
If your child avoids eye contact and has difficulty interacting with others, this is a sign they may need OT. Children with autism often have difficulty reading social cues, like making eye contact and understanding the physical cues of others.
Challenges with following directions
If your child has difficulty following directions and completing tasks, OT may help. For example, if your child cannot follow a series of instructions or complete simple tasks such as cleaning up after himself or herself – it may be time to get an evaluation here at Lumiere.
If you have concerns about your child’s development or want to prepare for the future, then pediatric occupational therapy might be something worth looking into. It can help increase a child’s skills in areas like fine motor control and social interaction so that they are better equipped to succeed later on in life—whether at work or school.
Discover how easy it is to get started with Lumiere Therapeutic Preschool by scheduling your initial complimentary phone consultation with us today.