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What is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational Therapy benefits those who are faced with difficulty performing routine tasks. It is beneficial when there are concerns regarding fine motor, sensory, visual motor, and/or motor planning.

An occupational therapy evaluation assesses a child's motor skills especially fine motor skills, visual motor skills, handwriting skills, daily living skills, oral motor skills, and sensory processing skills. The use of standardized assessment tools, non-standardized assessment tools, parent interview, and clinical observations will be used to assess the child's performance.

Fine motor skills generally refers to actions of the hands, wrists, and arms, including dexterity, coordination, and strength. Handwriting is a complex process of managing written language by coordinating the eyes, arms, hands, pencil grip, letter formation, and body posture. The development of a child's handwriting can provide clues to developmental problems that may hinder the child's learning.

Visual Processing and Visual Motor Skills

This is the ability to use visual information to recognise, recall, discriminate and make meaning of what we see. It is important for the guidance of movement for example when writing, drawing and cutting. Initially, when learning, children heavily rely on visual information for movement and learning. This eventually becomes an automatic motor imprint of a visual shape enabling them to write letters with out having to think about their shape, formation, size etc. Visual perception has several sub-components, such as visual discrimination, form constancy, figure ground discrimination and visual memory.

Tactile and Sensory Processing

The tactile system interprets touch and the perception. It protects us from stimuli that may be perceived as harmful. With an over or under sensitive tactile system, the body interprets touch differently. When this occurs, due to certain types of clothing, food textures or unexpected touch, the body releases an excessive emotional reaction such as hitting, crying or other behaviors. Sensory integration (SI) is the process of receiving, organizing, and interpreting input, becoming the basis for motor planning, learning and behavior. When this process is disorganized, it is called Sensory Integration Dysfunction.

Motor coordination

Poor range of motion, deficits in eye and hand coordination, problems with fine motor ability, and decreased visual perception often result in poor performance in sports, poor handwriting, and will likely lead to problems with academic performance. In addition, the child's functional abilities, such as self-care, may be impacted, as the child may not be able to function at a developmentally appropriate level.