Why Might a Psychologist Recommend Occupational Therapy?

Pediatric neuropsychologists look a many areas of development when conducting a diagnostic evaluation. Based on their findings in the evaluation, they might recommend other therapeutic services, such as occupational therapy.

What is occupational therapy?

Occupational therapy helps children develop, improve, or maintain skills that allow them to fully participate in meaningful occupations. It might sound funny to that children have ‘occupations,’ but occupations for children include activities of daily living (e.g., bathing, brushing your teeth), instrumental activities of daily living (e.g., doing chores), rest and sleep, education, work, play, leisure, and social participation.

The role of play in occupational therapy

Play is a very important occupation for a child to engage in so it is common for pediatric occupational therapy to be play-based. Occupational therapists work to help children gain independence by modifying their environment and strengthening the development of skills needed to engage in their daily roles, habits, and routines. 

What does occupational therapy address?

Some of the main areas addressed by occupational therapy include sensory processing, fine motor skills, gross motor skills, self-care tasks, visual motor skills, and visual perceptual skills. 

  • Sensory processing: a child’s ability to process sensory input in their environment, such as sounds, noise, or textures. Some children may present with sensory hypersensitivity (i.e., heightened sensitivity), such as, avoidance of loud sounds or avoidance of certain clothing textures. Others present with sensory hyposensitivity (i.e., decreased sensitivity, sensory-seeking behaviors), such as crashing into furniture or chewing toys. Some children may present with both sensory-seeking and sensory-avoidance behaviors.
  • Fine motor skills: a child’s coordination and strength of small muscles in the hand, wrist control, and forearm control to participate in actions such as pinching, writing, or grasping.
  • Gross motor skills: a child’s coordination and strength of large muscles in the body to participate in full-body actions such as running, jumping, or crawling.
  • Self-care tasks: activities that include dressing, bathing, eating, and other tasks essential for living.
  • Visual motor skills: a child’s ability to coordinate visual input and motor output. These skills are necessary for tasks such as copying letters, numbers, or shapes.
  • Visual perceptual skills: a child’s ability to understand and attach meaning to what they are seeing. These skills can include visual memory (e.g., remembering what letters look like when writing) and visual discrimination (e.g., distinguishing between the letters ‘t’ and ‘f’), among other important areas.

If you would like to learn more about pediatric occupational therapy or diagnostic evaluations, contact the Goldman Center of Chicago to learn more about services we offer.