Does My Child Need OT?

Addressing the social and environmental factors, as well as physical injuries and underlying motor issues that may affect fine motor functioning in children, can make OT a vital part of a child’s healthcare and daily wellbeing.


If your child has been given a formal diagnosis by a medical professional, or you are still trying to understand your child’s unique challenges pre-diagnosis, consider these factors:


Sensory Processing – what are the sensory problems you have recognized that may be affecting your child’s growth?

For example:

  • Does your child show aversion to certain textures (clothing, material or food)?
  • Does your child crash or bump into objects or furniture?
  • Does your child cover his/her ears to certain sounds?
  • Does your child avoid eye contact with you or with any family member?
  • Does your child actively engage in play, or does he/she avoid interaction?
  • Does your child have difficulty attending to a task?
  • Does your child have difficulty following directions (with an awareness that hearing is not a factor)


Children with Sensory Processing Disorder respond to environmental stimulation differently than most neuro-typical children. They receive messages from the senses, however, the brain interprets this information differently resulting in inappropriate responses. Sensory system(s) that may be affected may include: Auditory, Visual, Oral, Olfactory (smell), Tactile, Vestibular, and Proprioceptive.

Fine Motor Development – what are some of the developmental milestones you have recognized may be impeding your child’s progression?


Fine motor development usually involves the use of smaller muscles in hands, fingers and wrists. Controlling these muscles with our eyes allow us to perform tasks that require precision and coordination.

For example:

  • Is your child crawling on all fours?
  • Is your child reaching for and grasping at toys?
  • Is your child able to grasp objects such as eating utensils, markers/crayons or scissors appropriately?
  • Is your child able to manipulate clothing fasteners (zippers or buttons) and/or tie own shoelaces?
  • Is your child able to draw shapes, write letters and numbers, and copy words and/or sentences correctly?

If any of these factors are present in your child, ask yourself:

  • Do these challenges interfere with your child’s daily function?
  • Do these challenges disrupt the dynamic at home?
  • Are the issues at home appearing in the classroom or social settings?


If you can answer yes to any of these questions, a Pediatric OT evaluation is a great first step to determine if Occupational Therapy is necessary to your child’s overall development.

Common Childhood Diagnoses

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Down Syndrome, Rubinstein Taybi Syndrome, and other genetic diagnoses
  • Sensory-motor disorders/sensory integration
  • Prematurity
  • Cerebral Palsy and other neurological diagnoses
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • General delays in fine motor and visual motor skills – may include upper body strength, problems with hand function and fine motor skills such as handwriting, visual/spatial processing, hand-eye coordination, body awareness