Introduction to Pediatric Occupational Therapy

Introduction to Pediatric Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapy in pediatrics is concerned with childhood activities and seeks to support their growth for increased independence. Similar to an adult, a child’s life is made up of “occupations,” which include playing, learning, sleeping/resting, taking care of themselves, and interacting with others.  A pediatric occupational therapist works with children and their care team (caregivers, family unit, and service providers) from infancy through adulthood to improve their overall health and development. 

Pediatric occupational therapy can be delivered in a variety of settings, such as a hospital, clinic, daycare programs at school, and in the home. Services delivered by an occupational therapist can be ordered through a doctor, care manager, or through privately paid services by a caretaker/guardian. Regulations and procedures may vary state by state. Service managers can point guardians to the correct resources within a specific locale. 

For children that qualify, occupational therapists will define an intervention and service delivery plan for the care team to follow. Through a comprehensive understanding of each child’s unique activity demands and environment, the intervention and service delivery plan will aim to improve independence in identified deficit areas. A wide variety of needs are able to be addressed in pediatrics. 

Examples of common therapeutic targets are:

  • addressing feeding strategies for newborns.
  • adhering to classroom routines for school-aged children.
  • developing self-care skills.
  • promoting socialization through the use of assistive technology. 
  • learning how to use tools and materials correctly. 
  • assisting with accessibility planning. 
  • gaining employment in transition programming, and more.

In short, an occupational therapist helps all children live their lives to the fullest at all stages of their development.