What is Pediatric Occupational Therapy?

Pediatric occupational therapy helps children promote and gain independence by helping to strengthen the development of fine motor skills, sensory motor skills, and visual motor skills that a child needs to function, socialize, and grow to be a functional independent adult.  Congenital physical impairment,  general developmental delays, or aquired injuries can hamper a child’s ability to perform tasks that are age appropriate or progress normally through the social or cognitive development stages.  Pediatric Occupational Therapy is critical to parents to promote age appropriate skills to prevent any lag in development. Due to the nature of developmental skills acquisition, the longer a child’s delays are not addressed, the higher the possibility that the problem will compound as a child ages.

What does a Pediatric Occupational therapist DO to help children?

When working with children, pediatric occupational therapists often utilize play into their treatment in order to reduce any fears or anxiety children might be feeling toward therapy. What may look like a simple play activity to a parent,  to a pediatric occupational therapist, play is seen as a series of complex motor planning, cognitive training, and learning tasks. Play can involve games, toys, puzzles, songs or physical exercises. In all cases, the goal of pediatric occupational therapy is to stimulate and help children make appropriate progress, while assisting to  build a child’s self-esteem and confidence when it comes to their capabilities and potential.

Although Occupational therapy involves the use of play during therapeutic intervention, an occupational therapy should not be confused with play therapy. Occupational therapy is provided by a licensed occupational therapist. Occupational therapists are healthcare professionals that provide skilled intervention which includes ongoing analysis of a child’s abilities and development of medically based and measureable goals to increase a child’s overall performance with age appropriate tasks.

What areas of development would an Occupational Therapist help with?

  • Cognitive skills–  remembering the names/formation of letters, shapes and sequences
  • Fine motor skills– finger dexterity, wrist and forearm control, and hand strength
  • Gross motor skills– balance and body coordination
  • Self-care tasks– dressing, bathing and self-feeding
  • Social skills– taking turns, listening and following directions
  • Sensory Integration- helping with sensitivity to noise, touch/textures,taste,and visual stimuli

What are tasks that occupational therapy helps with?

  • Moving arms and hands freely to play with toys
  • Holding a crayon
  • Drawing or scribbling
  • Dressing (managing zippers, buttons, snaps, shoe laces)
  • Trying new foods (picky eater)
  • Playing with toys appropriately
  • Stacking blocks
  • Copying shapes
  • Doing puzzles
  • Snipping/cutting with scissors
  • Self-feeding (drinking from a cup, using a spoon)
  • Holding a pencil with a mature grasp
  • Increasing attention to task
  • Transitioning to a new location or activity
  • Learning new activities and tolerating changes in routine
  • Bathing or grooming (brushing teeth, brushing hair, cutting hair/nails)
  • Being always “on the go”




If  you have concerns regarding your child’s development, contact our office at 704-821-0568 to speak with a licensed therapist for a FREE 5 minute screening or to schedule for a full comprehensive evaluation.


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