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Paediatric Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy is a treatment that focuses on helping people achieve independence in all areas of their lives. It can offer children with various needs positive, fun activities to improve their cognitive, physical, and motor skills and enhance their self-esteem and sense of accomplishment. Occupational therapists working with children aim to optimise a child’s occupational performance ie their ability to function in their daily lives. Children have many important and complex occupations, which form an important foundation for the roles they will take on as adults.


These occupations include:


  • Playing, including imaginative and structured play

  • Self-care which includes the activities of daily living such as feeding, toileting, dressing, grooming, mobility, getting organised for the day ahead

  • Education and Learning which requires skills in many areas including attention and concentration, organisation and planning, fine and gross motor skills, emotional regulation and social skills, body awareness and sensory behaviour (touch, sound, taste, smell, vision, balance, motor planning)


Occupational therapy intervention addresses the key 'doing' skills that a child is having difficulty with such as:


  • Fine motor (construction activities, colouring, drawing, cutting, handwriting legibility and speed, typing skills, puzzles)

  • Written expression (thinking up and organising ideas on paper with structure and coherence, essay writing)

  • Gross motor (ball skills, skipping, jumping, swimming, riding a bike)

  • Self-care (dressing, eating, hygiene, toileting)

  • Play (imaginative play, purposeful, structured and sequenced play)


Occupational therapy intervention also addresses any imbalances in underlying functions and abilities that may be impeding the development of such skills including:


  • Mechanical functions (posture, seating, muscle tone and pencil grip)

  • Sensory abilities (coordination, sensory processing, body awareness, balance, motor planning, visual perceptual ability ie the ability to recognise, differentiate and attach meaning to the information we see in the environment, reactions to sensations such as sound, taste, smell, vision)

  • Cognitive functions (attention, memory, organisation and planning)

  • Personal abilities (motivation, confidence, enjoyment and perseverance)

  • Social abilities (friendship, social participation and dealing with feelings and new siutuations)


Occupational Therapists working with children and young people have knowledge about and experience observing how children develop and acquire skills. They also understand how to analyse and breakdown skills to help children achieve.


Occupational Therapy Assessments

Specialist assessments allow the therapist to uncover the child’s areas of need in order to advise on the most appropriate therapy strategies. You will be asked to fill out a pre assessment questionnaire covering current and background information on your child. This will help inform the assessment process.


The assessment session will last up to 2.5 hours (depending on the needs of the child) and incorporate the following standardised assessments as appropriate:

  • Fine and gross motor skills

  • Sensory Integration

  • Self – regulation

  • Planning and sequencing

  • Balance and coordination

  • Neuromuscular abilities

  • Self-care skills

  • Concentration and attention

  • Functional skills in the classroom

  • Handwriting

  • Visual perceptual skills

  • Play and socialisation

Following assessment, a comprehensive report which includes standardised scores, a written narrative of the assessment findings and their impact on your child’s development will be compiled. The report will include recommendations that can be put into place at home and nursery/school which will promote your child’s strengths and support them to develop their areas of need as well as recommendations for therapeutic intervention as required. The therapist will discuss the findings of the report with you and therapy goals will then be agreed.


Individual Therapy sessions
Following assessment of your child’s needs, therapy sessions of up to an hour’s duration may be recommended weekly. After an agreed number of sessions, your child will be reassessed after which further sessions can be considered according to the progress made.

Recommendations for home and school
Parents will be given guidance on suitable activities to engage the child in at home between therapy sessions. The therapist can also make a school visit as required, to advise teachers on any suitable adaptions to the environment or specific teaching strategies/ activities the child would benefit from.


© Just-Brilliant 2016.