Colorado Center for Pediatric Learning and Development

enabling : development : function : achievement and a happy childhood

Red Flags

Kindergarten and Elementary School

The following lists are common indicators of sensory or motor dysfunctions/delays in young children. If a child exhibits one or more of the following, it does not necessarily indicate dysfunction; the child’s functional performance must also be below average for his age level.

Please note: these lists are not exhaustive.

  • Sensory Processing Issues
  • Motor Planning/Praxis Issues
  • Speech and Language Issues

The following signs may indicate a sensory processing issues:

  • Frequent inability to sit and attend to a tabletop activity for an age appropriate amount of time.
  • Refusal to engage in messy tactile activities like finger painting.
  • Seeking out an excessive amount of movement input in the form of bumping or crashing into objects.
  • Seeking out an excessive amount of spinning input.
  • Fear of movement activities where feet leave the ground or when there is a change in the position of the head.
  • Constantly touching others, mouthing non-food objects, and seeming not to understand personal space.
  • Inability to independently execute a familiar sequence of motor activities.

Many children in kindergarten have a decreased attention span. This alone does not indicate a sensory integration dysfunction; the child must also have difficulty socializing, learning, or transitioning from activity to activity because of the decreased attention span. If a child demonstrates any of these signs AND her functional performance is negatively impacted, an occupational therapy evaluation is recommended.

The following signs may indicate motor planning/praxis issues:

Fine Motor

  • Inability to independently manipulate clothing fasteners
  • Lack of a hand dominance
  • Use of gross a palmar grasp to manipulate writing utensils
  • Inability to form shapes or letters at an age appropriate level
  • Inability to feed self independently with spoon, fork and/or cut with a knife

If a child exhibits any of the above fine motor signs, an occupational therapy evaluation is recommended.

Gross Motor

  • Excessive clumsiness
  • Inability to move through a busy environment without bumping into things
  • Unable or uncoordinated running, skipping, jumping, hopping, etc.

If a child exhibits any of the above gross motor signs, a physical therapy evaluation is recommended.

The following signs may indicate speech and/or language issues:

  • Stuttering behaviors, repeating sounds, letters or words
  • Difficulty being understood by peers and adults
  • Difficulty with syntax-forming sentences in the correct order
  • Difficulty comprehending basic spatial concepts i.e. big/little, up/down
  • Difficulty answering and asking WH- (who, what, where, when, why) questions

If a child exhibits any of these signs, a speech and language evaluation is recommended.