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5 Things Teachers Ask Us All the Time about Occupational Therapy

5 Things Teachers Ask Us All the Time about Occupational Therapy

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Teachers are often on the front lines of having to assess whether or not a child should receive a formal occupational therapy evaluation. That is not always an easy role. Especially when there is a curriculum to follow, other students to attend to, and the delicate issue of bringing up concerns to parents.

At WeeCare, we field a lot of questions from teachers about occupational therapy. Here are the top five:

 1. How do I determine if I should refer a child or not?

This is our most popular question, by far. It also can be a difficult one to answer without additional information or insight into the individual child’s behavior or abilities. Because of this, WeeCare has developed a new screening tool to help address this question.

2. When should a child have a noticeable hand dominance?

Handwriting is rarely taught in schools and many teachers are not taught how to teach handwriting. As a result, many teachers ask us questions related to this, starting with hand dominance. The basic rule of thumb is that while all children develop at a different pace, usually by end of kindergarten (about 5-1/2 years old) their dominance should be able to be determined. Children who do not demonstrate a dominant hand by this point may need to be considered for an occupational therapy evaluation, as it may be an indicator of other motor skill issues.

3. Should a child be writing by hand by kindergarten?

The fact is that we live in a world increasingly reliant on technology to get us through the day. While there are many benefits to this, some teachers are concerned that because their students are primarily using computers and tablets, they are not learning how to write by hand. That’s why WeeCare offers handwriting classes. Handwriting requires neck control, hand strength, shoulder strength, good posture, controlled sitting, and focused vision—all important to for those even as young as 5. Regardless of the evolution of technology, learning how to write and have proper handwriting should never become a thing in the past.

4. How important is a child’s pencil grip?

It is actually more important than most realize. Why? If a child is allowed to naturally grab a pencil without any guidance on a proper grip, it is likely that it will turn into a bad or weak grip. Once engrained, is nearly impossible to re-teach and change after about 1st grade.

5. For children who don’t get referred to an OT or who don’t qualify for services, what are some strategies teachers and parents can use to help them?

Teachers often experience having children in their classrooms that are fidgety, hard to control, or hyper. Unfortunately, with overextended classrooms, these children often don’t get the help they may need. Teachers already have a lot on their plate and a fidgety child may be a distraction to the other children. While special education classrooms provide teachers and students extra time and resources needed to succeed, it is not an option for everyone. For those in private school or in a normal classroom setting, there is hope. To help address this frequently asked question, WeeCare owner and therapist Marti Austin, has developed this list of classroom strategies for fidgety children.

If you are a teacher, what questions do you have about occupational therapy? If you are a parent, what types of OT questions have you discussed with your child’s teacher?

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