What Are the Signs that Indicate My Child Needs Occupational Therapy?
Below are two lists of signs/difficulties that indicate your child might need occupational therapy (referred to as “OT”).
These lists do not include all the signs that your child needs OT. You may find additional signs on the internet; your child’s teacher may speak of difficulties that your child is showing; or you may observe your child having a difficulty that is not identified on any list.
In any case, it is recommended that you contact and consult with an Occupational Therapist to find out if your child needs an OT evaluation.
Signs Related To Feeding That Indicate Your Child May Need OT:
- Not exploring or showing interest in new foods
- Eating a very limited diet and not adding new foods to diet
- Eating only particular brands of food; for example, will eat only McDonald chicken nuggets and not other brands of nuggets
- Avoiding whole food groups like vegetables, fruits, and/or proteins
- Does not show signs of being hungry
- Overreacts to smells and tastes
- Crying, tantrums, throwing food and/or utensils during mealtimes
- Arching back, turning head away from food or nipple, coughing, gagging, vomiting, and showing other signs of distress while eating
- Baby has/had difficulty latching onto your breast
- Baby has/had difficulty coordinating sucking, swallowing, and breathing while feeding from a nipple
- Parent(s) have to prepare a separate meal for child
- Eats less than 20-30 different types of foods. If your child eats French Fries and mash potatoes then this counts as two separate foods even though they are both potatoes.
Additional Signs That Indicate Your Child May Need OT:
- Not performing similarly to children his/her age
- Is slow at meeting milestones
- Has difficulty coordinating hands and body to perform everyday activities
- Is not interested in playing or avoids certain play activities
- Struggles with self regulation- behavior, mood, and reactions to everyday situations
- Inconsistent sleeping and eating patterns
- Sensitivity; overreacts to sounds, smells, messy hands, clothing, tags in clothing, socks, having hair brushed, or being moved (swings, slide, being picked up, etc.)
- Has difficulty socializing
- Your friends and/or family tell you that your child may need help
- Your child’s daycare teacher tells you that your child is having difficulty performing activities
If Your Child Shows These Signs
If your child shows any of the signs from the lists above (or from another source), your child may need occupational therapy.
A word of caution: some pediatricians tell parents that the child will “outgrow” the signs/difficulties, when in fact, a child will not outgrow it.
I have heard from many families whose pediatrician said their child will outgrow the difficulty and then waited several months (up to a year!) before searching for help for their child.
As a family waits for their child to “outgrow” the difficulty, their child falls farther behind. I recommend you follow your intuition and do what you feel is best for your child… the earlier the better.
Even if you feel that the difficulty your child is showing is not severe or significant, consider an OT evaluation anyway.
Occupational Therapy evaluations are a non-invasive way to evaluate your child’s skills and performance.
The evaluation and the occupational therapist will talk about your child’s strengths and weaknesses, and will give you ideas on how to help your child make progress.
Please refer to this article: How to Find an Occupational Therapist for your Child.
Visit Tammy’s bio and get her contact info if you are looking for an occupational therapist in Orlando.