How do I know if OT is needed? What should I look for?

Occupational Therapy Services, Halifax Nova Scotia, Lisa Dennis

What can Occupational Therapy (OT) help with?

Adults and children are different when it comes to detecting if the individual are in need of an occupational therapist, below are things to look for to be tell tale signs that seeking our an occupational therapist woudl help!

If you are an adult, do you have difficulty with:

  • performing your activities of daily living (bathing, dressing, feeding, mobility)
  • performing leisure activities or chores
  • performing well at work
  • concentration, working memory, paying attention
  • sleeping
  • coping with chronic pain
  • sensitive to sounds, touch, visual stress (reading problems)

For Children, do you notice the following with your child?

  • No interest in fine motor activities (using their hands)
  • Unable to roll, hop, skip, jump, run, etc.. or avoidance of these gross motor activities
  • Poor pencil grasp or scissor skills
  • Clumsy grasp and release skills (throwing ball seems uncoordinated)
  • Difficulty holding small objects, manipulating tools, pencils or scissors
  • Unable to complete mazes, dot-to-dot
  • Difficulty copying text from whiteboard or blackboard
  • Dressing: clothes on backwards or shoes on wrong feet
  • Poor orientation of puzzles pieces- “gives up”
  • Reversal of letters such as b for d or p for q (that seems to linger on)
  • Poor coordination, physical clumsiness or apparent carelessness
  • Child requires “hands on” or visual learning, rather than auditory
  • Easily fatigued and overwhelmed by external stimulation
  • Problems applying what has been learned
  • Child has been previously diagnosed with a mental health disorder such as ADHD, oppositional defiance and/or has a history of failed interventions, which may include medication and treatment
  • Over/under sensitive to touch, movement, sights or sounds
  • Impulsive, lacking in self control
  • Inability to unwind or calm self down, easily distracted
  • Social and/or emotional problems
  • Difficulty making transitions from one situation to another
  • Delays in speech, language or motor skills
  • Delays in academic achievement
  • Problems with self-esteem, suspected trauma

Remember that it is only considered as possibly problematic if this behaviour is not commonly seen in the child’s peers (i.e.  This behaviour needs to stand out as different from other children in his/her class. )  If the behaviour is culturally appropriate and considered healthy (no risk of harm to the child or others) then it does not need to be addressed. 

These behaviours may or may not resolve with time.  The Occupational Therapist will evaluate and address these flagged behaviours and if it is deemed necessary develop an intervention plan.  Consent must be given by the client/guardian for this assessment and intervention plan.  

Lisa Dennis has been an occupational therapist since 1999 working with a diverse clientele. She has extensive experience in community home-care in Quebec and Ontario with the adult and geriatric population with physical disabilities. She has spent 4 years working in northern Labrador offering mental health and addictions services as well as school pediatric interventions with aboriginal youth-at-risk aged 6 to 24 years

Lisa's Holistic Rehab - Occupational Therapy Services