Why Motor Skills Matter


Interview with Pediatric Occupational Therapist

By Cara Yochai, PT, DPT

Occupational Therapists put the fun in function.

- Anonymous

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Bernadette McMahon ORT/L

q1. What is one thing you wish that everyone knew about Occupational Therapy?

A: "What it is (laughs). Occupational therapy works to improve overall function to increase independence in everyday activities, also known as activities of daily living including self-care, play, and school tasks. Occupational therapists use therapeutic play to help children meet developmental milestones and improve various skills such as gross and fine motor, visual motor, and sensory.

q2. What are the three most common conditions that you work with?

A: "Fine motor skill delay, Sensory processing disorder, Handwriting delay."

q3. When would you suggest a parent to seek occupational therapy services for his or her child?

A: If you feel your child is having trouble completing various tasks such as

Fine motor tasks: Grasping, picking up toys, holding a pencil, using both hands together, lacing

Gross motor tasks: Coordination, difficulties crossing midline, catching/throwing playground ball

Visual motor tasks: Hand eye coordination, tracing, handwriting, cutting,

Sensory: Decreased attention, poor body awareness, hyperactivity (unable to sit still or concentrate on an activity) or hypoactivity (fear or difficulty moving). Having adverse reactions to touch, noise, smells, tastes, and visual stimuli.

Self-care:  Buttoning, zippering, shoe tying, holding feeding utensil

Q4. How can PT and OT work together?

A:  In pediatrics, it is great when Occupational and Physical therapists collaborate. Each bring an important knowledge base to work together to provide the best treatment plan for each child. Together they work on positioning, gross and fine motor movements, the coordination of upper and lower extremities and create modifications to improve overall participation in various activities.

Q5. What is one of the most rewarding parts of being an Occupational Therapist?

A: One of the most rewarding parts of being a pediatric occupational therapist is seeing the happiness a child feels when they are successfully able to complete a task independently. (ex: tying their shoe or writing their name)

Q6. Any advice you can give to parents at home, who has a child that may be in need of occupational therapy services?

A: My advice would be do not hesitate to seek help. Speak to your child’s doctor for any questions or concerns you may have in order to make sure your child is getting the help they need.

Tara Liddle