How Observing School-Related Tasks Helps to Identify the Need for Occupational Therapy
For a teacher, treating every student as an individual while also focusing on their unique needs and progress can be a challenge, especially with larger classroom sizes. Yet, teachers are in an important position in their students’ lives where they can identify certain behaviors or characteristics that may indicate a need for occupational therapy.
The Importance of Identifying Students Who May Benefit from Occupational Therapy
Occupational therapy is a type of healthcare that helps those who struggle with everyday tasks due to physical, sensory, or cognitive problems. By working with occupational therapists, patients can achieve the ability to do the things they want or need through therapeutic use of daily activities. For students who are struggling to perform certain school-related tasks, this can be a sign that they might need occupational therapy. Identifying this need can make the difference between a great academic experience and a lifetime of setbacks.
Because occupational therapy can be used to correct these struggles, it can greatly improve the quality of life for the student who receives it. They may even benefit from improved academic performance and social interactions.
Signs a Student May Need Occupational Therapy
It doesn’t require expertise in the field to identify if a child can benefit from occupational therapy. Below are some (but not all) signs to be on the lookout for in identifying which students may need occupational therapy.
Difficulty with Visual Perception and Oculomotor Skills
Visual perception refers to the ability to perceive and interpret visual information, while oculomotor skills involve the coordinated eye movements that enable the scanning, tracking, and fixation upon a subject or object.
Signs of problems with visual perception or oculomotor skills are:
- Difficulty reading
- Difficulty finding objects mixed among other objects
- Difficulty copying information from the board
- Difficulty recognizing letters, numbers, and/or shapes
- Difficulty with handwriting, such as with spacing and letter sizing
- Difficulty copying letters, shapes, and/or numbers
- Difficulty with visual tracking
Difficulties with Fine and Visual Motor Skills
Fine motor skills require the use of the small muscles in our hands and wrists to make movements. We use visual motor skills to perceive visual information and process it using our fine motor skills. These skills can make the difference in a child’s performance at school.
Trouble with fine and visual motor skills often appear as:
- Difficulty holding a pencil or pen correctly
- Difficulty cutting or folding
- Difficulty coloring within the lines
- Difficulty doing puzzles or playing with toys
- Difficulty forming letters and writing legibly
- Difficulty copying numbers and shapes
Difficulties with Sensory Processing
The way in which our nervous system receives information from the senses and creates responses is referred to as sensory processing.
Sensory processing difficulties often result in a student’s inability to complete daily tasks. Signs of trouble with sensory processing can appear as:
- Frequent clumsy behavior
- Decreased attention and focus
- Difficulty calming themselves when upset
- Delayed or low response to some sensations, such as pain
- Restlessness or difficulty sitting still
- Overly interested in sensory input, such as a high frequency of hugging, making noises, or trying to touch things around them
Receiving Occupational Therapy for Your Child
The positive thing about being able to identify problem areas in a student’s school-related tasks is that occupational therapy can be implemented sooner so that the student can return to a better quality of life. Teachers just want their students to succeed and by recognizing signs that might require occupational therapy, they’re playing a crucial role in helping their students to do just that.
Contact MidAmerica Orthopaedics if you believe your child may benefit from our occupational therapy services. Our occupational therapists have extensive experience working with children and adults to improve their quality of life and help them regain functionality. Give us a call at 708-237-7200 or schedule an appointment online.