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Occupational Therapy

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What is Occupational Therapy?


Occupational therapy is a profession concerned with promoting health and well-being through occupation. Paediatric Occupational Therapists work with children who are experiencing difficulties in occupations (or activities that “occupy” their time day-to-day) including:

  • Self Care (i.e. dressing, toileting, feeding )
  • Play (i.e. pretend play, social interactions in play)
  • School skills (i.e. handwriting, maintaining attention, sensory processing)

Paediatric occupational therapists use fun and engaging activities to assist children to participate in the activities that they need or want to take part in. Occupational Therapists also support children’s participation by looking at the environment the child is required to complete the activity in (i.e. the classroom) and by breaking activities down to find out where the activity becomes difficult.

For further information please refer to Occupational Therapy Australia’s website.

Could an Occupational Therapist Help My Child?

Occupational therapy may be helpful for children experiencing difficulties in the following areas:

Self Care

  • Independence in dressing or using cutlery (i.e. doing up buttons, tying shoelaces coordinating a knife and fork)
  • Toileting
  • Mealtimes (i.e. limited range of food eaten and difficulty trying new foods)
  • Sleep or bedtime routines

Play and Leisure

  • Engaging with other children in play
  • Coordination when participating in outdoor games or sport
  • Participating or understanding pretend play
  • Throwing or catching a ball

School Skills

  • Handwriting
  • Letter or number reversals
  • Tying shoelaces
  • Copying from the board

School Readiness

  • Holding a pencil
  • Drawing simple shapes or pictures
  • Using scissors
  • Maintaining attention to complete tasks
  • Developing hand dominance

Attention and Self Regulation

  • “Tuning in” to the correct information (i.e. focusing on the teacher, not background noises)
  • Completing tasks independently without prompts
  • Sensory processing – managing the sensory input from the environment. Children may have difficulty with sensory processing if they appear to be:
    • “On the go” – need to move even when not appropriate to the situation (e.g. in class)
    • Overly sensitive to loud noise, touch, smell
    • Like to make noise at inappropriate times (i.e. during class, while trying to focus)
    • Distracted by background noise in the classroom, which interferes with participation
    • Seeks out touch inappropriately (i.e. touches other children when in line or on the carpet)

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