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Pediatric Occupational Therapy: Role of OT, Importance, and Benefits.

Updated: Jan 4

Pediatric occupational therapy by an OT to a child

Occupational therapy (OT) is an allied healthcare profession that helps kids who have a physical, sensory, or cognitive disability learn how to do everyday things like eating, focusing on learning, putting on shoes and socks, and writing.

Occupational therapy helps the child overcome the barriers in their daily life activities and improves their performance at school, making them independent and thereby boosting their self-confidence.

Who benefits from Pediatric Occupational Therapy?

  • Sensory Processing Disorders

  • Cerebral Palsy

  • Infantile Feeding/Latching Difficulties

  • Traumatic Brain Injuries

  • Handwriting Skills

  • Hand-eye Coordination

  • Daily living Skills

  • Birth injuries or birth defects

  • Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis

  • Burns

  • Child recovering from fracture

  • Cancer

  • Spina bifida

  • Chronic illnesses like multiple sclerosis, scleroderma, etc.

What services does an Occupational Therapist provide?

Sensory Integration (SI)

Focused at helping individuals process sensory information from their surroundings. It is helpful for autistic children with hypersensitivity.

Fine Motor Skills Training

Involves improving skills such as handwriting, grasping objects like pencil, toys, and manipulating small items like buttoning their clothes, tying shoelaces, and picking things with tweezers.

Gross Motor Skills Training

It involves less fine movements like walking, crawling, balance, running around obstacles and jumping the rope.

Activities of Daily Living (ADL) Training

As the name suggests it is focused on daily activities such as dressing, bathing, grooming, and feeding. The therapist also helps the child develop a routine about how to go along the day. The aim is to promote independence in daily activities.

Cognitive Rehabilitation

Focuses on improving cognitive functions, such as memory, attention, problem-solving, and executive functioning.

Adaptive Equipment and Assistive Technology

Involves use of technology and various devices to help the individuals overcome their physical and cognitive limitations in day to day activities.

Hand Therapy

Specialized intervention for individuals with hand injuries or conditions, aiming to improve hand strength, coordination, and function.

Neurodevelopmental Treatment (NDT)

Focuses on improving movement and postural control, particularly for individuals with neurological conditions.

Where can your child receive occupational therapy?

Occupational therapists often work in various settings including hospitals, schools, rehabilitation centers, private clinics and mental health facilities based on the requirements of your child.

During the COVID pandemic online occupational therapy has gained a new found popularity and it has been found to be equally effective as offline Occupational therapy. The online sessions are tailor made in every aspect as per the requirements of your kid.

Parent-mediated OT services have the potential to significantly enhance parents' learning, empower them to implement OT strategies in their home & community settings, increase child participation in daily activities, improve communication & engagement between parents & their children.”- The Open Journal of Occupational Therapy (2023)

Why should you take online occupational therapy?

Online occupational therapy is highly practical and engaging. With online occupational therapy,

1. Your child can receive OT in the comfort of your home, you can schedule the sessions based on your convenience and save traveling time.

2. Parents become active participants and are aware of the goals, activities and exercises recommended for the child.

3. You connect with specialized therapists who may not be locally available.

4. Some autistic children and individuals feel more comfortable and perform better when they receive therapy in a familiar environment, which can enhance the therapeutic experience.

How does occupational therapy work?

Pediatric occupational therapists select interventions for children based upon their performance in daily life, how their performance is affected by their condition, and how their environment can restrict their performance.

Following the initial assessment, the occupational therapist creates a program of exercises and activities based on specific skills.

Occupational therapy can also vary based on the setting in which it is being provided, for instance, occupational therapy in school involves working on tasks like writing, hand-eye coordination. Whereas, private occupational therapy focuses on self-care routines and day to day activities.

The gist of pediatric occupational therapy to help the child develop important skills to build their confidence, which can be low when they are struggling.

Importance of early intervention in pediatric occupational therapy

Early intervention refers to occupational therapy provided to the child in early years of life. As soon as the child is diagnosed with a developmental delay, occupational therapy should commence.

Timely initiation of occupational therapy can significantly improve the child's emotional, cognitive, and physical capabilities. Early occupational therapy for babies helps them catch up with their milestones rapidly.

Occupational therapy in a school going child can help improve their academic performance thereby improving self confidence and enhancing the quality of life.

Few other benefits of early intervention occupational therapy are:

  • Increased independence in daily activities.

  • Supports Sensory Processing. Early intervention can help identify and address sensory challenges, making it easier for children to engage with their environment and learn effectively.

  • Social and emotional development. It can provide strategies and interventions to address these behaviors and improve overall functioning.

  • Prevention of secondary issues. Early intervention may reduce the likelihood of academic difficulties or emotional challenges later in life.

  • Family support and education. Early intervention allows families to be actively involved in their child's therapy, promoting a supportive environment for the child's development.

  • Cost savings. Addressing developmental challenges early may reduce the need for more intensive interventions later on.

"Early intervention through occupational therapy has been found to be beneficial in supporting children with developmental disabilities".

How can I prepare my child for occupational therapy?

For optimal results, your child needs to be as comfortable in the therapy sessions as possible. Few tips to prepare your child for their occupational therapy sessions are:-

  • Inform your child. Sometimes the child can experience fear before going to a new unfamiliar place, explain your child more about the online sessions and give a brief introduction of the therapist to make sure they feel comfortable and more open to therapy. Minimize distractions to help your child focus on the activities and instructions.

  • Ask your child about their goals. Children seem to take more interest in activities when they see what's in it for them. Ask your child if they want to be able to write faster, tie their shoelaces on their own, or even go to the beach with their friends and be able to dip their fingers in the sand?

  • Dress your child for active therapy. The occupational therapist will suggest various activities and exercises to the child, therefore, the child should feel comfortable in their clothes and participate willingly in these activities.

  • Tell your child what to expect. You can tell the child how often the sessions would be scheduled and the duration of the sessions. You can assure them that you will be present by their side throughout the sessions. They have nothing to worry about and it's going to be a fun experience for them.

  • Celebrate Achievements. Acknowledge and celebrate your child's achievements during and after the online OT sessions.

Share your child’s background with the therapist as it can help your therapist understand the strengths, and requirements of your child better.

Sounderic provides online speech therapy sessions for children with various communication disorders. We would love to help you. Get in touch with us on WhatsApp at +919644466635 or schedule a consultation with us at

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