How to Talk to your Pediatrician about Occupational Therapy Concerns

Pediatricians provide medical care to individuals ranging in age from newborns to young adults. They are responsible for examining, diagnosing, and treating children with a wide variety of injuries and illnesses. Pediatricians facilitate routine check ups in order to monitor a child’s growth and development from birth to adulthood.

Your child’s pediatrician can be a significant resource when you have questions and concerns about your child’s health. It is important to have open communication and talk to them immediately, rather than later. Do not hesitate to ask your pediatrician to conduct a routine developmental screening. Be prepared to discuss examples of developmental milestones your child may or may not be meeting. You may also want to describe your child’s behavior with reference to what other individuals involved with your child have seen as well.

Having trust in your pediatrician will help set your family up for success and will help make the most of the doctor-client relationship. It is essential to remember that what may be best for the child, may not always be the easiest. Clearly express your concerns. Do not be afraid to ask for clarification and raise questions early on in the appointment since the pediatrician’s duty is to make sure the parents understand what is going on. Pediatricians teach families to provide proper care to their children and will provide necessary referrals for occupational therapy if particular expertise is needed.

By being referred to a pediatric occupational therapist, they will be able to further evaluate your child’s ability to perform activities of daily living, play, sensory processing, and fine/gross motor skills. Activities involved may include getting dressed, interacting with other children, coloring and cutting, etc. The occupational therapist will work closely with your family to address your concerns, set goals, and provide a treatment plan that will help achieve those goals.

Medical professionals commonly refer children to pediatric occupational therapists due to concerns or delays in one or more of the following areas:

1. Fine Motor Skills
Examples, not limited to:
-difficulty manipulating small objects
-using an immature pencil grip
-problems with fastening buttons, zippers, or snaps
-issues with eating utensils

2. Sensory Processing Awareness
Examples, not limited to:
-picky eating with limitation in variety and types of food
-covers ears in response to noise
-sensitive to textures
-difficulty in sitting still
-crave movement

3. Visual-Motor Integration
Examples, not limited to:
-avoidance of coloring or writing activities
-demonstrate problems with sizing and spacing of letters and words
-have illegible handwriting

4. Gross Motor Development and/or Coordination
Examples, not limited to:
-decreased muscle strength
-easily fatigued
-frequently fall or exhibit clumsiness

The goal of a pediatric occupational therapist is to help the child be able to fully participate in daily occupations that are necessary and meaningful. This can involve instrumental activities of daily living, rest and sleep, education, play, leisure, and social participation. We hope this information helps in your possible pursuit of occupational therapy. For more information, feel free to contact Chicago Occupational Therapy!