Occupational Therapy for Children


Is a child’s play, self care, and all their daily learning tasks.


Uses activities to improve the child’s ability to function in daily life, particularly with motor, perceptual and daily living skills.

Occupational Therapists work with children, adolescents and their families to maximise a child’s development. Therapy programs assist children to participate in preschool, school and home activities enhancing their quality of life.

Occupational Therapy involves skilled assessment, planning and intervention to help individuals achieve independence in all aspects of their lives. It is through an individual’s participation and performance in activities and roles that are of value to them that their health, well being and sense of purpose and meaning are shaped.


Services may be provided to children and adolescents with a range of conditions which may include:

  • developmental delay
  • learning difficulties
  • attention difficulties
  • mental health difficulties
  • physical disabilities
  • intellectual disabilities
  • insufficient social and/or play experiences
  • Fragile X Syndrome
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Down Syndrome

Developmental areas and skills that may warrant a referral to OT for a child include:

  • Fine motor – puzzles, drawing, cutting, writing
  • Social skills – greetings, taking turns, playing games, winning and losing, developing and maintaining friendships, appropriate body language, starting and maintaining conversations
  • Play – pretend play, role play, doll/teddy play
  • Gross motor – coordination, balance, ball skills, crossing the midline, postural control, ball skills
  • Self-care – dressing, eating, toileting, bathing, sleeping
  • Sensory processing and modulation – responding to sensory stimuli in an appropriate and expected manner
  • Attention and concentration – maintaining a calm and alert level of arousal appropriate to the activity and situation
  • Developing early concepts e.g. shape, colour, size, number
  • Visual perception – making sense of what is seen, letter and number recognition, developing the eye muscles for reading
  • Problem solving
  • Use of assistive technology
  • Managing time and organizational skills – using an organizational system, completing tasks in a timely manner
  • Improved or increasing participation in leisure activities
  • Managing emotions – stress, anger, sadness, anxiety

Paediatric Occupational Therapy activities are designed to be fun and interactive thus enabling children to strive for their full potential regarding age appropriate developmental milestones. Prescribing equipment and task/environmental modification may also form part of the child’s therapy plan. Occupational Therapists work in collaboration with key parties, including family, teacher and child, to achieve desired goals.

Areas of development that an Occupational Therapist can assist adolescents with include:

  • Daily life skills – meal preparation, budgeting, chores
  • Maintaining a healthy lifestyle
  • Personal hygiene and presentation skills
  • Problem solving
  • Increasing leisure activities
  • Managing emotions and time
  • Social skills

Helpful Links

For additional information on Paediatric Occupational Therapy please refer to the following videos:

University of Brighton describe the diversity and depth of Occupational Therapy practice. If you are solely interested in a paediatric example please fast forward to 1min 50 secs.

For additional examples of Paediatric Occupational Therapy practice across different developmental areas.

Occupational Therapy for Children

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