What is Occupational Therapy for Children?

Occupational therapy practitioners work with children, youth, and their families to promote active participation in activities or occupations that are meaningful to them. Occupation refers to activities that may support the health, well-being, and development of an individual (AOTA, 2008). For children and youth, occupations are activities that enable them to learn and develop life skills (e.g., school activities), be creative and/or derive enjoyment (e.g., play), and thrive (e.g., self-care and care for others) as both a means and an end. Occupational therapy practitioners work with children of all ages (birth through young adulthood) and abilities. Recommended interventions are based on a thorough understanding of typical development and the impact of disability, illness, and impairment on the individual child’s development, play, learning, and overall occupational performance.
Occupational therapy practitioners provide services by collaborating with other professionals to identify and meet needs of children experiencing delays or challenges in development; identifying and modifying or overcoming barriers that interfere with, restrict, or inhibit a child’s functional performance; teaching and modeling skills and strategies to children and their families to extend therapeutic intervention; and adapting activities, materials, and environmental conditions so children can participate under different conditions and in various environments.

Developmental Needs

The primary occupations of young children are play and interacting with caregivers. Occupational therapists evaluate children’s development and provide intervention to improve skills and/or modify environments when concerns arise about a child’s functional performance. Some examples are:

  • facilitating movement to help a child sit independently or crawl;
  • helping a child learn to follow 2- or 3-step instructions;
  • helping a child develop the ability to dress independently;
  • helping a child learn to cope with disappointment or failure;
  • reducing extraneous environmental noise for a child who is easily distracted;
  • building skills for sharing, taking turns, and playing with peers;
  • helping a child develop the ability to use toys and materials in both traditional and creative manners.

OTs at Communication Bridges provide treatment for ages 2-10 in the areas of:

  • Fine motor skills: fine motor strength, grasping/ pinch patterns
  • Visual motor skills: shape formations, age level drawings/ figures (i.e. journal drawings), scissor skills
  • Pre-writing preschool skills
  • Handwriting skills- letter formation, letter size , spatial skills, legibility
  • Sensory motor Skills- motor planning, tactile play, sequencing
  • Organizational skills
  • ADLS- Activities of Daily Living Skills
  • Attention Span, Focus, Sensory Processing Consultation
  • Behavior Intervention/Regulation

Occupational Therapy Services Can Include:

  • Evaluation + Report
  • Treatment
  • Home Program
  • Parent Consultation