What Does a Pediatric Occupational Therapist Do?

what is an occupational therapist

Therapists who work in pediatric settings have a special role in the development or healing of children with injuries, developmental delays, or chronic conditions that affect their development. A pediatric occupational therapist focuses on helping children develop the skills they need to grow into functional, independent adults. Incorporating play into practice as a way of motivating them and reducing any anxiety or fears they might feel toward therapy.

  • Cognitive skills – problem solving, remembering letters, shapes and sequences
  • Fine motor skills – small movements made with fingers, toes, wrists, lips, and tongue, like holding a small object or picking up a spoon
  • Gross motor skills – body awareness, balance, and body coordination
  • Self-care tasks – dressing, bathing, oral care, toileting, and self-feeding
  • Social skills – taking turns, listening, and following directions
  • Sensory processing – regulation, attention, visual, auditory, gustatory, tactile, oral, vestibular, proprioception, interoception
  • Feeding – picky eating, swallowing difficulties, aversive behaviors to food

The role of a pediatric therapist is to work with the child and their family to assist each child to reach their maximum potential to function independently and to promote active participation at home, in school, and in the community.