occupational therapy

Occupational Therapy

About Occupational Therapy

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.

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.

Child in occupational therapy session

Occupational therapy practitioners provide services by collaborating with other professionals to identify and meet the 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.

Team of occupational therapists playing game with child

Developmental Needs

The primary occupations of young children are playing 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:

  • Helping a child sit independently or crawl
  • Helping a child follow multi-step instructions
  • Developin the ability to dress independently
  • Learning to cope with failure or disappointment
  • Educational Needs
  • Reducing extraneous environmental noise for a child who is easily distracted
  • Building skills for sharing, taking turns, and playing with peers; and
  • Using toys and materials in both traditional and creative manners.

Occupational therapy practitioners work with students in preschool, elementary, middle, and high school to support successful learning, appropriate behavior, and participation in daily school routines and activities. Services can be provided under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, or the Americans with Disabilities Act for students with disabilities, or as part of a multi-tiered problem-solving process for general education students (e.g., Response to Intervention, early intervening services). Practitioners also collaborate with teachers, parents, and education personnel on ways to support student learning throughout the school environment.

Occupational Therapy can help with the following :

  • Sensory Processing
  • Fine Motor Development Delays
  • Handwriting problems
  • Self-care Training
  • Assistive Technology consulting and training
  • Motor Planning
  • Feeding Difficulties
  • Environmental Adaptations/Adaptive Equipment
  • Play and Socialization
  • And More

Common Diagnoses:

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Sensory Processing Disorder
  • Down Syndrome
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Genetic Conditions
  • Developmental Delay

Finding the Right OT Program

Pediatric occupational therapy helps children be successful at the “jobs” of childhood, including self-care, play, school performance, and social interactions. Occupational therapy can help kids with various needs improve their cognitive, physical, sensory, and motor skills and enhance their self-esteem and sense of accomplishment. Using activities that seem like play to children, occupational therapy provides challenging tasks in a one-on-one setting strategically designed to improve the skills children need in their daily life.

Our occupational therapy program includes several other specialized treatment programs including SOS (Sequential Oral Sensory) Approach to Feeding Therapy for children with feeding aversions, Handwriting Without Tears handwriting curriculum, Integrated Listening System, and Interactive Metronome which both assist with motor planning, sensory processing, and cognition.

Child'sPlay Occupational Therapy team members

If you feel your child could benefit from pediatric occupational therapy, please contact us for a free phone consultation.  Don’t wait! Research proves that early intervention is vital! We will consult with you on appropriate treatment and will set up an occupational therapy program customized for your child’s needs that fits your schedule.

Want to Learn More? Contact Us!


American Occupational Therapy Association. (2008). Occupational therapy practice framework: Domain & process (2nd ed.). American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 62, 625–683.