When evaluating young kids, occupational
therapists look at how a child is developing their gross motor skills, fine
motor skills, sensory processing skills, and self-care skills.
It all sounds really complicated, but gross motor skills are observing
children and how they run and jump and climb. Are their core muscles strong
enough to allow them to do activities that kids like to do, at a rate that is
comparable with their peers? Fine motor skills look at how kids hold a pencil,
how they cut with scissors. Are they able to hold a utensil when eating? Are they
able to coordinate their fingers to do complicated things like button buttons
on their shirt, or tie their shoelaces? Occupational therapists also look at
sensory processing skills. How long kids are able to sit down and attend to an
activity. Are they distracted by noises in their environment? Do they have
difficulty with wearing different clothes that might be making them itchy
or scratchy? Are they having trouble sitting down working at the table, where
it’s impacting their ability to focus on what a teacher or a parent needs them to
do for that activity? Many times in an occupational therapy evaluation, it’s
more fun and play-based. Parents bring their kids into the clinic, the children
think that they’re having fun working and playing with another therapist.
Parents are really important in the occupational therapy evaluation. Many
times they can offer the child strengths and weaknesses and skill level, if
sometimes kids come to the clinic and they’re nervous and they don’t want to
participate with a therapist on that day. Oftentimes, therapists will, they make
clinical observations during these activities. But they also use
standardized assessment tools, that give us percentiles and numbers to help
qualify kids for services, offer medical insurances justification for services,
as well as help us guide their future treatment. You know, were they having
difficulty with one skill this time? In the future, because they’ve participated
in therapy and they’ve worked on, you know, breaking down the skills of tying
their shoelaces, we now know that they’ve made progress. As part of the
occupational therapy evaluation, parents will get a lot of information about
their kids. And it’s usually written in a full report that they can get, that’s
broken down into specific areas. Many times the evaluation reports will share
those standardized scores, they’ll share their percentiles, and how kids relate to
other kids their same age. Oftentimes in the evaluation, many therapists will
include recommendations. They’ll not only say whether they think kids need
services, weekly services moving forward, or for how long they might need therapy
services for, but they might list different recommendations of what
parents can do at home. How to break down some of those really challenging
self-care skills that kids just don’t want to do, like tie their shoelaces. Or
they might make a suggestion for a pencil grip, or something that they can
do with their kids at home, so that they can help improve their skills. If you are
concerned about your child’s motor skills, and whether or not they could
benefit from occupational therapy services, it might be beneficial to have
an occupational therapy evaluation. Even if your child doesn’t need an evaluation,
pick up the phone, call a therapist, call a clinic, and ask them questions. Many
times the professionals who work in these locations are able to help guide
you through the referral process, and let you know whether or not it’s something
that you should pursue.