Developmental delays and occupational therapy

Children go through a variety of developmental phases from birth until adulthood. Although these development stages generally follow a timeline, a child may encounter some difficulties which can be a sign of a delay in their development.


An occupational therapist is a professional who has been trained to detect a delay. Let’s take a look at the real significance of a developmental delay and the ways that an occupational therapist can intervene to help a child reach their full potential.


Developmental delays

Every child is unique and their development depends on several factors including genetics, personality, interests, as well as what they’ve experienced during their short lives.


A developmental delay occurs when a child has difficulty in performing a task or an activity related to a developmental domain. The main developmental domains are language, physical, gross motor, fine motor, and social skills. A child can have difficulty in several of these areas or many difficulties in one area in particular.


For instance, a child who has difficulty picking up a pair of scissors to cut paper, but is able to dress themselves (manipulating zippers, buttons, laces) or use cutlery does not necessarily have a development delay. On the other hand, if the child has trouble undertaking all these tasks and/or other activities related to their fine motor skills, it is recommended you consult a professional who can determine and implement a clear treatment and intervention plan.


Because a child’s development spans several domains, different professionals can intervene, such as a pediatrician, psychologist, speech therapist, psychoeducator, or occupational therapist. The latter is qualified to help a patient become fully independent in their environment.


How an occupational therapist can help

First, the occupational therapist must evaluate the child’s situation. By questioning the parents and carrying out tests to assess motor skills, sensory perception, and cognitive abilities, the occupational therapist can get an understanding of what the child is struggling with.


The occupational therapist mainly relies on games as an intervention technique. These games are designed to get the child involved in their treatment and help them adopt a positive attitude in performing tasks. For example, the occupational therapist may use toys to stimulate a baby into turning onto his stomach. The occupational therapist can also use costumes to help the child get dressed on their own. He can also rely on games that involve handling pieces of different shapes and sizes to help a child improve their fine motor skills.


Thanks to these interventions, an occupational therapist can provide a child with the necessary tools to help them reach their full potential.


When should you consult an occupational therapist?

To maximize your child’s chances of reaching their full potential, you need to consult a professional as quickly as possible if you notice that they are having trouble with certain tasks. A quick intervention will reduce the risk of a developmental delay having severe consequences later on.


Because a child needs to be more independent when they reach primary school, this is usually the age where problems are detected and an occupational therapist is called upon to intervene. However, remember that there is no age to consult an occupational therapist in order to counteract the effects of a developmental delay!



Mobile occupational therapy services

Clinique GO™ offers occupational therapy services in your home or at your child’s day care or school. An intervention in an environment that’s familiar to your child to maximize its efficiency! Our high-quality services will help your child reach their full potential! Thanks to our Pédiatrie GO service, your family can consult other Clinique GO™ specialists who can help with your child’s optimal development! If needed, the occupational therapist can get support from a psychoeducator, speech therapist, and psychologist who can then provide additional services.



Francis-Desjardins Approuvé par Francis Desjardins
Président et physiothérapeute depuis 1994.
Francis Dejardins