As an occupational therapist, a good place to start when I begin occupational therapy treatment with a child, is to ensure the parents and I are using the same words to mean the same things.
For today’s post, I thought I’d introduce some words and concepts I take for granted.
Occupational therapists understand that childhood is made up of a sequence of pretty complex developmental periods that are unique to each child.
Occupational therapists believe that a missed opportunity to support a child’s occupational development at any point will have negative effects across the child’s life.
That is why we support the early identification of a developmental problem and immediate occupational therapy intervention.
QUESTION: So, what is child development?
ANSWER: It is how an infant, toddler, pre-schooler, child or youth becomes more able to do more complex things as he or she gets older.
QUESTION: What does normal child development include?
ANSWER: Normal child development can be grouped to include skills in the following six areas:
- Gross motor skills – using large groups of muscles to sit, stand, walk, run, hop, jump, change positions, etc.
- Fine motor skills – using hands, fingers and thumb to eat, draw, dress, play, print and do many other things.
- Sensory skills – seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, tasting, balancing and using the sense of muscles and joints to move.
- Language skills – speaking, using body language and gestures, communicating and understanding what others say and do.
- Cognitive skills – thinking, learning, understanding, remembering, reasoning, planning and problem-solving.
- Social skills or interacting with others – having relationships with family members, friends, caregivers, educators; cooperating and responding to the feelings of others.
Developmental milestones are actually a set of functional skills.
Think of the six groups of similar skills listed above.
They all have functions in daily life.
Milestones refer to age-specific tasks that most children can achieve by a certain age range.
However, every child is unique.
Developmental milestones give a general idea of the changes that can be expected as a child grows, learns and matures. Remember that development can sometimes take a different, slower or faster course.
REMEMBER as well that children have good days and bad days. It is best to watch for a lack of development over a period of time – weeks for infants or months for children.
My best recommendation is to speak to your child’s pediatrician or your family physician if you have any concerns about your child's development to start.
Watch to see if your child seems to be slower to gain a group of skills vs. the odd one or two.
And as special thanks to my blog readers, here is a FREE eBook to download, all about child development.