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Here are some of the signs that indicate if you need to take your child to see an OT (occupational therapist).

Childhood has changed. We used to spend hours outside, climbing trees, making mud pies and playing make believe, but the onset of the digital world has changed all of that. Now, children spend more time in front of the television, playing on the iPad or their cellphones. While this certainly isn’t the only contributor to developmental delays in many children, it definitely plays a part.

Fortunately, the modern age has also brought with it occupational therapists (OTs), professionals who can provide help with any concerns you may have regarding your child’s development. And the sooner you intervene, the better it is for your child in the long run.

But how do you know if your child needs to see an OT? Fedhealth has put together the below based on tips from qualified occupational therapist, Amy Bartlet.

Telling signs

Here’s how to assess if your child needs to see an OT.
Not reaching developmental milestones

Not all children develop at the same pace, so don’t panic if your child only walks a few months after his peers. But if there are severe discrepancies and your child reaches milestones, such as speaking, walking or becoming potty trained, much later than his or her peers, it may be a good idea to get a professional opinion.

Difficulty initiating activities, copying gestures or following routine

All of these are signs that your child may need the help of an OT.

Lack of eye contact or communication

Not making eye contact, no communication by the age of three and walking on their toes. These are some of the other behaviours to keep a look out for.

Sensitivity to different texture, clothing or food types

Maybe your child is annoyed by “itchy jerseys” or can’t handle the feeling of water on their skin. While this does not always mean they need to see an occupational therapist, it could hint at an issue that needs further attention.

Low self-esteem, being withdrawn or having a strong dislike for school

Many children may be nervous to start playschool or preprimary, but if they constantly dislike attending school, there could be an issue you need to address.

Constant reversal of number and/or letters

This applies once children are older and are learning the basics of maths and English.

Lack of concentration, fidgety

Struggling to sit still, concentrate or follow basic instructions. This can limit their ability to learn in a classroom environment or to interact with their elders or peers.

Poor gross motor development

They may be struggling to jump, climb or skip, or they may be clumsy with poor balance.

Fine motor delays

This applies to when children are older than six years old and have difficulty cutting, writing or tying their shoelaces. They may also struggle to choose a dominant writing hand and so end up writing with both.

Lack of independence

If children are of school-going age and still unable to dress themselves, brush their teeth independently or place their shoes on the right feet, it’s a good idea to get them checked out.

This is by no means an exhaustive list but it can be helpful to know what to look out for, and to be aware of anything that could be a concern when it comes to your child’s development. If you’re unsure, you could always take your child to an OT for an initial assessment and to check whether further therapy is needed.