From an improper grasp of a pencil, to difficulty using scissors – delays in fine motor skills are prevalent in the classroom. While teachers are often the first to notice, they may not have the appropriate training or resources to recognize and address these issues.
Unfortunately, students with less-noticeable difficulties may fall through the cracks, as they may not fit the criteria for occupational therapy services. Moreover, failing to address delays in fine motor skills early on can present problems later in life, which may require more extensive therapy to correct these issues. Making occupational therapy available for all levels of need would prevent issues from being overlooked.
One solution is to integrate occupational therapy into the classroom setting. Occupational therapists are trained to assess students’ fine motor skills the through observation of daily activities, identify delays, and provide innovative activities designed to practice fine motor skills. In the classroom setting, occupational therapists observe students’ performance as it is happening, and can intervene when needed.
An advantage of occupational therapy in the classroom is to avoid the disruption that ensues from pulling children out of the classroom. The addition of an occupational therapist can make lesson time more efficient for the entire class. Further, an occupational therapist is able to provide assistance to individuals without disrupting the lesson. Remarkably, other students benefit from learning skills observed in small groups.
As the demand increases for occupational therapy resources – particularly in early education programs, so too has the need for more practitioners. Thus, the standards of practice for occupational therapy have had to adapt to the situation. These changes have allowed occupational therapists to work with a wider range of patients with varying degrees of motors delays. As the benefits of occupational therapy in the classroom have become apparent, this has created more opportunities for occupational therapists to practice outside of the traditional setting.
Occupational therapy involves a hands-on approach to problem solving and requires the ability to develop innovative solutions. If you are looking to find a fulfilling career that allows you to exercise your creativity, while bettering the lives of children, you might want to consider pursing a career in this field.