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Sensory/social skills: 2 to 12 years

Sensory/social skills: 2 to 12 years 

Sensory development relates to our senses (vision, hearing, touch, taste, smell) which allow us to explore the world around us. Social skills refer to our interactions with other people. (For an infant or child, social skills center on behavior in play situations.) Here are general guidelines for sensory/social development for children ages 2 to 12 years:  

2 years  

  • Uses own name to refer to self 

2 ? years 

  • Some dependent behavior on caregiver, but clinginess is decreased 
  • Able to play alone 
  • Some frustration tantrums are present (but not more than 6 per day or lasting longer than 10 minutes) 
  • Can tolerate a variety of clothing (does not insist on certain clothing only - e.g., only long-sleeved shirts, tags must be cut out of clothing, etc) 
  • Eats a variety of foods (not limited to certain color or texture) 

3 years 

  • Has some difficulty transitioning between activities (ex. indoor to outdoor play) 
  • Participates in interactive games, taking turns with others in play 

6-8 years 

  • Eager to learn new skills and accomplish tasks 
  • Can share with others and do well in group activities 
  • Able to handle group situations (e.g., standing in line) without reacting aggressively to being touched 
  • Has ability to stay seated (not fidgeting all the time) 
  • Enjoys playground activities (does not seem fearful when feet leave the ground) 
  • Comfortable transitioning between activities 
  • Seems organized in work/play space (not always losing things) 
  • Motor skill level is similar to intelligence level 
  • Able to function in a noisy environment 

9-12 years  

  • See themselves as individuals, while also spending time and energy on peer relationships 

Note: Occupational Therapy addresses problems related to cognitive, daily living, motor, sensory processing, social and visual/perceptual skill development.  

This information is a general guide to help you determine if your child is progressing at the rate expected for his or her age. Please keep in mind that each child is unique and develops skills at their own rate. If you are concerned about your child's development, a physician or therapist may be able to assist with an evaluation.  

Information provided by Sallie Tidman, OT/L, Director of Therapy Services, and Melanie Koch, Occupational Therapist. 

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