Happy Occupational Therapy Week!

With Occupational Therapy week celebrations kicking off over the weekend, I thought this would be a great chance to answer some questions about Paediatric Occupational Therapy and rediscover some of the things that make OT so great!

What is OT?

Occupational therapy is an allied health profession that focusses on building skills and improving participation in daily activities, so people can reach their pOTential! For kids, these skills and activities can be anything from using cutlery, brushing their teeth, managing their belongings, building and maintaining friendships to following instructions, coping with change, handwriting, throwing and catching, riding a bike, toileting or engaging with their environment.

Why would a child need to see an occupational therapist?

A child may see an occupational therapist for Occupational Therapy if they are not performing at an age appropriate level for any of the following:

  • self-care skills: bathing, dressing, feeding, toileting
  • fine motor skills: handwriting, drawing, buttons, zips, opening packets, using cutlery
  • gross motor skills: throwing and catching, climbing, balance, coordination
  • social/play skills: turn taking or sharing, asking to play, managing friendships, winning/losing appropriately
  • cognitive skills: attention, organisation, memory,
  • behavioural, emotional or sensory regulation

Although a child does not need a diagnosis to see an occupational therapist, children with the following diagnosis may be more likely to require occupational therapy input during childhood:

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Intellectual Disabilities
  • Coordination Disorders
  • Sensory Processing Disorders or Sensory Impairments
  • FASD
  • Developmental Delays

What might a first session look like?

It is important before we begin intervention that we have a thorough understanding of the child. This includes gathering a birth history, family history, information about the child’s performance, environment, main daily activities and any concerns the parent may have. This is often completed by a questionnaire and/or discussion with the parents and completion of observations and standardised testing of the child.

What are some standardised tests that might be used?

  • Sensory Profile 2 – an outline of a person’s sensory preferences compared to the majority of the population
  • Bruininks-Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency (BOT-2) – a comprehensive index of the child’s overall motor proficiency in fine motor skills and gross motor skills.
  • Test of Visual Perceptual Skills – a test of visual processing and perception
  • Beery Developmental Test of Visual Motor Integration (VMI) – measures eye-hand coordination, motor control as well as visual information processing
  • Vineland Adaptive Behaviour Scales – measures adaptive behaviours in the domains of communication, daily living skills, socialisation, motor skills and maladaptive behaviour

How long would a child receive intervention for?

Every child is different and has different needs, so its hard to say. A child would continue to have intervention whilst there were achievable goals they are working toward. Sometimes a child will have regular sessions either in the clinic, at home or at school to work directly with their therapist to build skills, other times, a family may be given strategies or a program to be completed at home.

Do I need a referral to see an OT?

A referral is not necessary if you have concerns regarding your child’s development, you are able to book in an assessment with an occupational therapist, however we regularly receive referrals from:

  • GPs
  • Paediatricians
  • Speech Pathologists
  • Psychologists
  • Physiotherapists
  • School Teachers

What funding options are available for assessment and intervention?

If you have concerns about your child and would like them to see an occupational therapist, there are a few options that may assist with funding therapy. These are:


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