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What is occupational therapy?

At Learning Charms our occupational therapists specialize in fine motor, executive functioning, handwriting, praxis (motor planning), and kindergarten readiness.  Learning to love handwriting and fine motor activities can and should be fun! 

Is your child frustrated or anxious about activities requiring fine motor, gross motor, planning, or attentional skills?  O.T. helps otherwise bright, capable children unscramble the minor glitches that keep them from realizing their full potential.

What is occupational therapy? Occupational Therapists (OT’s) specialize in assisting people with the everyday activities of life (“occupations”) that make life productive and meaningful.  In the pediatric setting, OT goals would normally include improving daily life tasks and routines such as: sleeping, eating, learning, playing, and socialization, as well as the complex activities needed for academic success at school.

Our occupational therapists work to increase skills in areas including:

Fine motor coordination skills
Handwriting ( early handwriting, manuscript, and cursive )
Timing and Sequencing
Gross Motor
Motor Planning /Praxis
Visual Perception
Muscle strengthening
Clumsiness or lack of coordination
Organizational skills
Sensory Processing
Auditory Processing
Kindergarten Readiness Skills

Self-help skills
Working Memory
Attention
Processing Speed

More help understanding these terms

...boys and fine motor skills

“When I worked as a school-based occupational therapist, 80% of the population I served was boys.  I heard so many parents say that their son was not good at fine motor skills.  Upon observing and consulting with teachers, I found that the boys often are more interested in gross motor activities (running and jumping) than sitting down and drawing or cutting.    If a child spends more time engaging in a task, then the child will master the task at a faster pace.  However, if the child is not motivated to perform the task, then they will not engage in it. Does this ring true to anyone?  The longer the child does not participate in fine motor activity then the further behind they may get.  Most children also realize that others are doing more (are better at drawing than them) and become more resistant to performing the activity.  Many children will even become tearful when having to perform fine motor activities that they perceive as difficult. The earlier you get your child to start engaging in appropriate fine motor tasks, the sooner he will be ready for the fine motor demands of kindergarten.“—-  Stephanie Wick, OT/L

...girls and fine motor skills +handwriting

“I am not trying to say one size fits all, but in general, females’ fine motor skills are far more advanced than those of their male peers at an early age.   No worries, parents of boys, because boys usually have far better gross motor skills than girls.  Girls typically are very interested in fine motor activities (including pre-writing, coloring, cutting, and beading necklaces) and are therefore very motivated to practice.  Unfortunately, girls tend to “self-teach” handwriting and it is very common to see girls writing bottom to top, writing with segmented strokes and utilizing an improper pencil grasp.  Because they practice writing and drawing so much, these habits become ingrained much quicker and can be difficult to change by the time they are noticed in the classroom (usually in 1st / 2nd grade when writing demands increase). Poor handwriting habits increase the chances that the child will be slower and/or sloppy with writing.  Learning to write with good habits (e.g. proper grasp, top to bottom formation, left-to-right orientation, sizing, spacing)  increases efficiency and legibility.  In turn, good habits increase overall ability which increases self-confidence and motivation!” –Stephanie Wick, OT/L

Example:  Here is my son when he was almost 4 years old (2008!).  He went to a great preschool, (and his mom is an OT!) yet, he is holding his marker in a digital grasp.  He is also using his left hand here, and he routinely changed hands during a task.  This is very typical, yet, it is important to make changes so that they can progress to a more functional grasp AND start utilizing a dominant hand.  My son was interested in drawing so I knew I had better get him in OT.  Luckily, I knew just the person to help out.  Check the video out below.

In the video, Jackson is writing on a soft surface and is not consistently stabilizing with his non-dominant hand BUT sometimes you have to work in the moment of a child’s interest and refrain from over-correcting a child.

Your child may benefit from occupational therapy if any of these are true:

  • They  cannot hold a crayon correctly, are not interested in coloring, have trouble holding or cutting with scissors correctly, or have difficulty with fine motor tasks.
  • They seem to have weak hands, drop small items often, and/or get tired easily while doing fine motor tasks.
  • They have difficulty with learning gross motor tasks such as riding a bike, skipping, or hopping.
  • Have difficulties with executive skills (inattention, planning, organization, memory, emotional stability and/or self monitoring / ADHD /ADD )
  • They are overly over or under sensitive or emotional to sensory stimulation including touch, textures, tastes, sound, and movement.
  • They seem to be in constant motion from morning until night / may play too rough with siblings / may seek out unsafe opportunities for movement
  • They do not seem to hear words or directions from others, however, you know that the child’s hearing is normal. 
  • They may cover ears when people sing, or with certain sounds or may cry out that it hurts their ears, even though the sound doesn’t bother others.
  • They may become tearful, scared, or aggressive with change or transitions.
  • They have trouble with writing, including pushing too hard or not hard enough, not being able to develop and maintain a good grasp on the pencil, and having trouble with size, formation, organization, speed, and/or spacing of their letters.
  • They have trouble learning how to dress themselves.
  • They fall down often, or appear clumsy, during gross motor activities that are new for them (Dyspraxia) .
  • They may get upset about certain clothes: will not wear clothes with tags, socks that are “bumpy”, fabrics are itchy, etc.

Interested about our tutoring/coaching or programs that enrich development and handwriting?

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