Camp counselors have their work cut out for them- they have to plan daily activities, monitor the safety of the campers, be a cheerleader to encourage the campers throughout the day, and be a referee to teach the campers sportsmanship, turn taking, and following the rules. However, they are also the best advocates for the campers, as they can observe the strengths and weaknesses of each child, and can talk with the campers’ parents about what they notice throughout the day. Below is a list of some of the many signs indicating a child may benefit from working with an occupational therapist:
10 signs at camp that a child can benefit from occupational therapy:
- The child has difficulty following directions, either auditory and/or written, in order to engage in an activity. For example, first get the soccer ball, and then sit in the grass.
- The child shows aversion to different textures (e.g. grass; sunscreen; finger paint; tags in clothing).
- The child demonstrates decreased sportsmanship with peers, such as having a hard time losing, or a hard time with turn-taking.
- The child demonstrates decreased body awareness, such as being unaware of having personal space with peers (e.g. sitting/standing too closely to others), or moves too quickly or unsafely around his environment (e.g. trips often, bumps into things).
- The child demonstrates decreased hand-eye coordination and motor planning compared to same aged peers, such as difficulty with simple ball skills or basic swimming skills.
- The child has difficulty transitioning, such as a hard time with drop-off in the morning or with leaving at the end of the day. Similarly, the child may demonstrate difficulty transitioning between activities throughout the day.
- The child has decreased postural control, which might be noted by having a hard time maintaining an erect posture during tabletop tasks (e.g. leaning/propping/fidgeting) or has a hard time lying in prone on his belly.
- The child demonstrates picky eating during snack time or mealtime (e.g. only eats hot or cold foods; will only eat a few select food choices; only likes salty/sweet).
- The child has decreased attention compared to same aged peers, noted by jumping from one activity to the next without spending much time at each activity; or noted by distractibility and looking around to notice others in the room.
- The child has difficulty with handwriting/drawing/crafts compared to same aged peers (e.g. does not know how to hold writing utensil correctly; cannot draw a person with correct parts).
If any of the signs above apply to your child, he would definitely benefit from an occupational therapy evaluation and most likely ongoing occupational therapy (OT) sessions. OT sessions can help your child to gain more confidence for his fine motor and gross motor skills, body awareness, and other age appropriate activities. The goal is to help your child to keep up with same aged peers and expectations he is required to meet at home, at school, and within the community, so that he can have the greatest success.