What should you do if you suspect that your child isn’t reaching age-related motor milestones? Is playing outside enough? We caught up with Occupational Therapist Missy Menzes, who is the owner of Extra Credit! LLC Austin. Menzes advises parents:
Listen to your gut, even if a family member or physician says it’s probably fine. Call some nearby pediatric therapy clinics and ask questions. Early intervention offers the best prognosis if there’s a developmental delay, so it’s good to get an evaluation and find treatment sooner rather than later.
However, unless your child has already visited an occupational therapist (OT), you might not be crystal clear on what an OT does. Well, for adults, occupations are our jobs, while occupations for kids are things like play, self-care, and going to school. OT is considered both a science and art. Explains Menzes:
Parents usually bring their child to us because they want the child to function more independently and age appropriately. The parent might want to see improvement in the child’s play or self-care skills, a better pencil grip or handwriting, reduced sensory sensitivities, increased self-regulation, and improved organization/planning abilities.
A strong core and good body spatial senses are foundations to balance and coordination. The best thing young kids can do is be physically active multiple times and in many different ways every day. Menzes suggests encouraging children to participate in community based activities like swimming, ball sports, climbing and swinging on play equipment. At home, they can build forts and obstacles courses.
For slightly more structured activities, kidü offers many creative games to get children giggling while simultaneously building their motor skills. Babies will enjoy Reach for the Goal, while toddlers will love the Line Stepping Challenge and older kids will laugh as they dance to the Robot Jig. For additional motor skill development ideas, click on the Activity section of the kidü app and choose the Physical Development activity category.