Occupational Therapy

Reasons for Occupational Therapy Referral

Occupational therapy (OT) is designed to help children, as well as adults, acquire or regain the skills needed to perform the activities of daily life. It’s a huge field of practice and occupational therapists typically work in many different settings. Whenever a child shows delays in the mastery of typical activities or displays disruptive or unusual behavior, the OT is usually the first expert to work with him/her. So, what are some of the reasons for occupational therapy referral?

Reasons for Occupational Therapy Referral

Reasons For Occupational Therapy Referral
Reasons For Occupational Therapy Referral

In this article, we’ll look at some of the reasons for an occupational therapy referral. We’ll look at some of the delays and their signs and why occupational therapy may be necessary.

Developmental Delay

This means that your child is behind in developing skills that are considered common during a particular time period or age. This is usually when parents will take their children to a pediatric occupational therapist. However, a developmental delay is more than being a little behind in a skill but rather several skills or not meeting developmental milestones that may even hinder a young child’s ability to experience the long term benefits of going to preschool. Examples of developmental delays include:

  • Failing to develop age-appropriate social and play skills
  • Not learning at an age-appropriate level and being unable to adjust to preschool among other grades
  • Not reaching developmental milestones such as walking, crawling and sitting

Fine Motor Skills

This refers to small movements made with fingers, tongue, lips, wrists and toes, such as picking up a spoon or holding a small object. If your child is struggling with fine motor skills, they’ll likely have problems with tasks such as drawing, coloring, using scissors and holding a pencil.

Gross Motor Skills

These skills help us to move and coordinate various body parts such as the arms and legs. A child who is behind in gross motor skills may appear uncoordinated or clumsy. They may also have difficulties with balance, coordinating both sides of the body and poor ball skills.

Visual Processing

This refers to the process we use to make sense of visual information. It’s a process in the brain that interprets what we see. If your child has visual processing challenges, they may have difficulty finding objects among other objects, recognizing letters and visual tracking.

Oral Motor/Oral Sensory

This refers to the control of muscle movements in the face and oral area such as the tongue, jaw, soft palate and lips. Delayed oral sensory and motor skills can show in ways such as tiredness after eating, excessive drooling, excessive liquid from his/her lips when breast or bottle feeding. As a parent, this is where knowing healthy tips for kids comes into play to ensure that your child is always healthy. 

Sensory Processing

This is making sense of information received through senses such as sound and smell. Your child may show symptoms such as difficulty coping with change, heightened reactivity or oversensitivity to movement, touch or sound, constantly moving, bumping, crashing or jumping and being easily distracted by audiovisual stimuli.

Bottom Line

It’s important to bear in mind that all children are different and develop various skill sets at their own pace. However, those are some of the reasons for occupational therapy referral. Other reasons include delays in play skills, learning challenges and delayed social interaction skills. Be sure to consult an OT if you think your child may have difficulties adopting some of the skills above.