Occupational TherapyOne thing that parents struggle the most with when they’re thinking about whether to bring their child to occupational therapy is the question, “Is this issue that I’m seeing with my child really so significant that I need to go see somebody, or have my child tested?” 

I was that parent. I raised two children who had pretty severe sensory processing problems and I remember wondering, “Is it just me? Or is there something I’m not seeing?”

I did end up seeking occupational therapy for my children. You might already have heard my story about how I was the occupational therapist who sat in the occupational therapist’s waiting room! It was probably one of the best things I ever did because my kids are still in occupational therapy and it has helped them make tremendous gains in their sensory processing and their ability to function in the world. 

So I remember asking that question! And I’d like to summarize some of the most common, key concerns that parents repeat to me when they come in to ask me if I think their child should be in occupational therapy. Most often when parents make an appointment to talk to me they bring up one of these concerns. If your child has one or more of these behaviors, that might be a sign that they could benefit from occupational therapy.

1. “Clumsiness” or “awkwardness.” Many of our kids with sensory processing issues appear to be kind of clumsy or awkward. They just don’t seem to have the coordination that a lot of their peers have.

2. Touching. Many of these kids either like to touch everything around them, or they avoid touching anything. We’re not talking about slight tendencies. Remember the good old-fashioned bell-shaped curve? Many of these kids are in the 5%-10% at the end of the curve. 

3. Transitions. One of the biggest concerns we hear about is transitions. Transitions are things like, “first we’re going to go here, now we’re going to go to there; we’re going to go from this classroom to that place; now we’re going to go from this activity to that activity. …” Many of our kids really struggle with transitions.

4. Motion. Often times parents will describe their children as being constantly in motion. In other words, they never stop until their head hits the pillow and they pass out!

5. Food. And one more—if your child has issues with feeding and food textures, that’s another very strong indicator that they could benefit from occupational therapy!

So if you’re a parent who is wondering if your child might need occupational therapy, those are some of the most common problems we see. There are many more, but these are the most common. 

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