What is Occupational Therapy?

Some people mistakenly think that Occupational Therapy is only for adults but children have different kinds of “occupations”. Many children have difficulties that limit their participation in playing, learning, and performing daily activities, compared to their typically developing peers.  
According to the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), in addition to dealing with a child’s physical well-being, Occupational Therapy practitioners address psychological, social, and environmental factors that can affect function in different ways. This approach makes Occupational Therapy a vital part of health care for some children.

Occupational Therapy treatment focuses on helping children gain independence in various areas of their lives. Occupational Therapy can help children improve their physical, motor, and academic skills and enhance their self-esteem and safety.
How Might Occupational Therapy Help?

An Occupational Therapist might help children:
  • Improve balance, coordination, strength, and/or motor planning (praxis) skills.
  • Develop fine motor skills and handwriting skills.
  • Address hand-eye coordination (hitting a target, batting a ball, drawing, steering a bike, etc.).
  • Learn daily living skills (bathing, dressing, grooming, and feeding).
  • Use specialized equipment, such as wheelchairs, splints, bathing equipment, dressing devices, or communication aids.
Who Can Benefit from Occupational Therapy?
According to the AOTA, children with these and other problems might benefit from Occupational Therapy:
  • Sensory Processing Disorder and Subtypes
  • Sensory-Based Feeding Disorder
  • Sensory-Based Learning Difficulties
  • Autism/Pervasive Developmental Disorders
  • Gross and Fine Motor Delays
  • Developmental Delays
  • Coordination and Balance Problems
  • Attention and Concentration Problems
  • Down Syndrome
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Learning Problems
  • Birth Injuries or Birth Defects
  • Traumatic Injuries (Brain, Spinal Cord, Hand)
  • Neurologic Disorders
  • Chromosomal Disorders
  • Executive Function Disorders