Pediatric Occupational Therapy


Pediatric Occupational Therapy is a type of therapy that has the sole aim of helping children with physical, cognitive, and/or developmental disabilities develop the skills necessary to perform activities of daily living. It also helps children improve their self-esteem, physical and cognitive abilities, and social skills.

Occupational therapists use a variety of techniques, such as sensory integration, play, and therapeutic activities, to help children reach their goals. Treatment may involve activities to develop fine motor skills, visual motor skills, sensory integration, visual perceptual skills, and self-care skills. Occupational therapists also work with families to modify the environment to enable successful participation in daily activities.

What Is The Main Role Of A Pediatric Occupational Therapist?

A pediatric occupational therapist plays an important role in the lives of children and young adults. They help children with physical, cognitive, or developmental delays lead more independent lives. Pediatric occupational therapists assess the child’s current abilities and develop a plan of care to help the child reach their goals. They also provide activities and exercises to help the child develop skills for daily life. They may also help with sensory integration, fine motor skills, goal-setting, and problem-solving. The main role of a pediatric occupational therapist is to help children reach their highest potential and lead a healthy, fulfilling life.

Types Of Pediatric Occupational Therapy Specialties

therapist-helping-patientThere are different types of pediatric occupational therapy; they are dependent on the problem a child is facing. Some examples of this therapy are:

Enhanced Sensory Processing

Enhanced sensory processing in children can be achieved through occupational therapy by helping children better understand and manage their own sensory input. This may involve helping them to identify sensory triggers, teaching them how to self-regulate their responses, providing strategies to help with sensory overload, and helping them to develop their sensory processing skills so that they can better interact with their environment.

Oral Motor Skills Difficulties

Occupational therapy can help with oral motor skill difficulties by providing exercises to strengthen muscles in the mouth, such as lip and tongue exercises, to improve coordination and strength. The therapists may also use strategies such as sensory integration and sensory-motor activities to help the child increase their awareness of how they use their mouth. Therapists may also use strategies to encourage the kid to use their mouth in functional ways to complete activities such as drinking, eating, and speaking.

Self-Care Skills

A pediatric occupational therapist can help children with self-care skills by teaching them the necessary skills to independently complete everyday tasks, such as dressing, hygiene, and eating. They can also help with developing fine motor skills, which are needed for completing self-care tasks. The occupational therapist may also provide strategies for self-regulation and sensory integration, which can help children better manage their own behavior and emotions.


This specialty focuses on helping children with visual-perception difficulties, such as visual-motor integration and visual-spatial skills. This can be done by assessing the child’s ability to accurately interpret and process visual information. This can include assessing the individual’s ability to identify objects and shapes, understand spatial relationships, recognize patterns, combine visual information, and accurately interpret symbols.

Once a baseline of the individual’s visual-perceptual skills has been established, the occupational therapist can create a treatment plan that includes activities and strategies to improve the individual’s visual-perceptual skills. Treatment may include the use of puzzles, games, and visual activities to help the individual practice and improve their skills.

Neuromotor Skills

This specialty focuses on helping children with coordination and balance difficulties. Children who suffer from neuromotor instability can be treated through occupational therapy. This can be achieved by focusing on activities that help improve balance, coordination, and motor planning. Therapists can use a variety of approaches to help improve neuromotor skills, such as visual-motor integration, sensory integration, motor planning, and motor learning. These approaches can help improve a person’s ability to move their body with purpose, control, and accuracy.

Reasons For Pediatric Occupational Therapy

There are various purposes or reasons for pediatric occupational therapy. Some of them include:

Improvement Of Motor Skills

Pediatric occupational therapy can help improve motor skills in children through a variety of activities and strategies. These can include coordination and balance activities, fine motor activities, strength-building exercises, sensory integration activities, and therapeutic play. The therapist may also use visual or tactile cues to help the child with motor skill development.

Promotion Of  Sensory Agility

Pediatric occupational therapy can help promote sensory agility by providing activities that target the development of sensory processing skills. This includes activities to improve the ability to recognise and respond to sensory input, such as balancing, jumping, and other gross motor activities to improve body awareness and coordination.

Enhancing Tactile Exploration and Manipulation

Children who are having difficulties with tactile exploration and manipulation can be helped through occupational therapy. This can be achieved by providing opportunities for children to explore objects using their hands and fingers. Occupational therapists can provide children with specific tools, objects, or activities that involve exploration with their hands and fingers.

For example, therapists may provide children with textured objects, such as beanbags and playdough, to help them develop their tactile exploration and manipulation skills. Therapists may also provide children with activities that involve the use of tools and small objects, such as tweezers, tongs, and puzzles, to help them practice their fine motor skills. By providing these activities, children can improve their tactile exploration and manipulation abilities, as well as their overall sensory processing skills.

Promote Social and Emotional Development

Pediatric occupational therapy helps children develop the skills they need to interact successfully with their peers and to manage their emotions in social situations. Through play-based activities, children learn to self-regulate, identify and express their emotions, develop problem-solving skills, and build self-confidence.

How Does Pediatric Occupational Therapy Help Children?

Speech therapist working with a young child.
Speech therapist working with a young child.

Occupational therapy goes a long way in helping kids who have developmental problems or disabilities. It helps children improve their development, functioning, and independence through activities. Occupational therapists use a range of activities to help children improve their physical, cognitive, and social skills.Activities may involve sensory integration, motor coordination, fine and gross motor activities, play skills, self-care, and more. 

Through these activities, children can learn to better participate in their daily activities, such as dressing, eating, and leisure activities. They may also work on improving their coordination, strength, endurance, and balance. Pediatric occupational therapy is a great way to help children reach their fullest potential and improve their quality of life.

How Does Pediatric Occupational Therapy Help Autism?

This type of therapy helps children with autism learn how to perform everyday tasks and activities. OT can help children with autism develop skills such as communication, social interaction, problem-solving, self-care, and motor coordination. OT uses play-based activities to teach children with autism age-appropriate skills, such as following instructions, making eye contact, and taking turns with peers. OT also helps create a safe and supportive environment for children with autism to practice their newfound skills. OT can help children with autism become more independent, confident, and successful.


What To Expect In  Pediatric Occupational Therapy Evaluation

A pediatric occupational therapy evaluation typically includes an in-depth assessment of the child’s physical, cognitive, and psychosocial abilities. The therapist may ask questions about the child’s abilities, developmental history, medical history, and current functional performance. The therapist will also observe the child’s physical, cognitive, and social skills in various activities. 

The evaluation may also include an assessment of sensory processing, fine motor, visual motor, and self-care skills. The therapist may also use standardized tests, questionnaires, and other tools to measure and compare the child’s performance with peers. The evaluation typically results in a written report that includes a summary of the findings, recommendations, and suggestions for future interventions.

Procedures Involved In Pediatric Occupational Therapy Assessment

Once the therapist has established a therapeutic relationship with the child and family, they will typically begin to use a variety of assessment tools to identify the child’s strengths, needs, skills, and preferences. This assessment process may include the following:

Motor Skills Evaluation

This includes assessing the child’s coordination, fine and gross motor skills, strength, and endurance. The therapist also looks for any signs of developmental delays or physical deficits that may affect the child’s ability to complete activities of daily living.

Cognitive Assessment

This involves a thorough assessment of the child’s ability to remember, reason, think, understand, plan, and make decisions. This assessment helps the therapist understand the child’s strengths and weaknesses in these areas.

Sensory Integration Evaluation

This assesses the child’s ability to process sensory information from the environment, which can affect attention, behavior, and the ability to complete activities of daily living. The therapist looks for signs of sensory processing difficulties such as difficulty transitioning between activities, being overly sensitive to touch, texture, or sound, or difficulty organizing activities.

Functional Assessment

This looks at the child’s ability to complete activities of daily living, such as self-care tasks, school work, and leisure activities. The therapist looks for signs of deficits that may interfere with the child’s ability to complete these activities.

Social-emotional assessment

This assesses the child’s ability to interact with others and regulate emotions. The therapist looks for signs of difficulty engaging with peers or controlling emotions, which can affect the child’s ability to complete activities of daily living.

Behavioral assessment

This assesses the child’s behavior in different settings, such as at home, school, or in the community. The therapist looks for signs of behavior problems that may interfere with the child’s ability to complete activities of daily living.

Cost Of Pediatric Occupational Therapy

This therapy is mainly designed to help children. Its cost ranges from $50 to $120 per session, depending on the type of therapy and the therapist, with a typical range of $60 to $100 per session. Insurance may cover some of the cost, but parents should check with their insurance provider to find out what is covered. 

In some cases, a sliding scale fee may be available from the therapist. The cost of pediatric occupational therapy will vary depending on the needs of the child and the provider’s fees. Generally, most health insurance companies cover some or all of the costs associated with occupational therapy for children. Additionally, families can look into state and federal programs that may offer financial assistance to help defray costs. Ultimately, families should contact their local occupational therapist to determine the cost of services and explore all available options.

The treatment for this therapy can include a variety of activities and interventions. These may include exercises to improve strength, coordination, and fine motor skills; sensory integration activities such as using weighted blankets or other sensory tools to help the child feel more comfortable in their environment; play-based activities to help the child learn problem-solving skills; social-emotional activities to help the child develop positive relationships and communication skills; and adaptive equipment such as adapted cutlery and utensils, seating, or braces.

Pediatric occupational therapists help children with a variety of activities, including fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, sensory processing, self-care tasks such as dressing and feeding, visual perception skills, social-emotional skills, school performance, and behavior. They also provide guidance to parents on how to best support their child’s needs.

Occupational therapists help children with developmental, physical, or mental disabilities learn and practice everyday activities. They provide specialized care that focuses on improving a child’s ability to develop physical, cognitive, social, and emotional abilities so they can lead more productive and independent lives. They may work with a range of disabilities, including autism spectrum disorder (ASD), cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, sensory processing disorder (SPD), visual impairments, and learning disabilities. 

The primary types of therapy used to treat autism include Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA), Speech-Language Pathology (SLP), Occupational Therapy (OT), Physical Therapy (PT), Social Skills Training, and Social Pragmatic Communication Therapy

The length of time for a pediatric occupational therapy evaluation varies depending on the individual child and their needs. Generally, a comprehensive evaluation may include direct observation, interviews with parents and carers, informal assessment tools and standardized assessment tools, a review of medical records, or other assessments performed by other health care professionals. It may take anywhere from one to several visits to complete the evaluation, and some follow-up visits may be needed.