Occupational therapy helps people across the lifespan to do the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of daily activities (occupations). For children, occupations are activities that enable them to play and develop life skills, be creative and/or derive enjoyment, and thrive (self-care/help skills and relationships with others).
Pediatric occupational therapists work with children and their families to promote participation in meaningful activities and play.
Children can be referred for OT if they are not meeting developmental milestones or if they are having difficulty completing daily activities and routines. An OT can help improve a child’s motor skills, cognitive development, sensory processing, communication skills, self-help, and play skills. The goal of OT is to enhance development, minimize the potential for developmental delay, and to help families meet the special needs of their children.
A child struggling with sensory processing or sensory integration may have difficulties with:
- Sitting down and attending to tasks, even preferred tasks
- Appearing always “on the go”, easily distracted
- Oversensitive to touch, noises, smells, or other people
- Emotional and self-regulation
A child with a delay in self-help skills may have difficulties with:
- Dressing or undressing independently
- Tying their shoes, buttons, zippers, and other fasteners
- Washing their hands or brushing their teeth
A child with a fine motor or visual motor/perception delay may have difficulty with:
- Manipulating small objects or avoidance of fine motor activities
- Playing appropriately with toys
- Legible handwriting or using scissors to cut
- Completing puzzles
- Scanning their entire visual field to find objects.