Objective. Studies of the effects of occupational therapy services on hand skill development in preschool children are limited. This study examined fine motor and related functional outcomes in preschool children who received regular occupational therapy services. Differential effects that were based on the number of intervention sessions and amount of consultation were also analyzed.
Method. A sample of 44 preschoolers who received occupational therapy services and 20 preschoolers who did not receive occupational therapy services was assessed on 11 fine motor and functional measures at the beginning and end of the academic year. The occupational therapy practitioners who provided the direct services recorded the format, goals, and activities for their intervention sessions.
Results. The preschoolers who received occupational therapy services demonstrated significant improvement in all but two measures and improved more than the children without fine motor delays on five of the measures. When the preschoolers who received services, categorized by number of intervention sessions, were compared, no differences in the amount of improvement were found (other than in visuomotor skills). The preschoolers who received the most consultation improved the most in two of the measures.
Conclusion. Preschoolers who received direct occupational therapy services made significant gains in fine motor skills and related functional performance. Their gains surpassed the gains made by the children who did not receive occupational therapy services, suggesting that fine motor performance improves with intervention.