Child with Occupational Therapist at Siskin Childrens Insitute Occupational Therapy at Siskin Children's Institute

Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapists can identify a child’s strengths and challenges
and set up fun and engaging ways to improve their skills.

What Is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational therapy is a discipline of helping children with their occupations of life. Feeding themselves, playing with siblings, going down the slide at the playground, drawing, coloring, cutting, dressing, and even going to the grocery store with family are all occupations of life. Occupational therapists are trained to evaluate and treat children based on what their needs are, helping them to become as independent and happy as they can be for their age in all areas of life: community, home, and school.

Occupational Therapy

We can help your child meet their goals.

Occupational therapists can help determine what may be interfering with a child’s ability to easily perform their daily occupations. Children can have lots of different difficulties that can contribute to challenges. Sometimes they are not able to move their bodies the way they need to. Sometimes a task is difficult because the child is overwhelmed by sounds, smells or too much movement. Other times, children can move so much it interferes with their ability to do their jobs.

Occupational therapists can identify a child’s strengths and challenges and set up fun and engaging ways to improve a child’s skills.

Talk to your pediatrician today about a referral to Siskin.

Who Benefits From Occupational Therapy?

Occupational therapists see children with a wide variety of diagnoses; however, your child does not an official diagnosis. Children with diverse needs and abilities can benefit from occupational therapy, including the following:

  • Handwriting difficulties
  • Isolated socially
  • Learning disabilities
  • Pervasive developmental delay
  • Poor coordination
  • Sensory processing difficulties
  • Visual perceptual delay

Frequently Asked Questions

What diagnosis usually requires occupational therapy?

Occupational therapists see children with a wide variety of diagnoses, such as autism, Down syndrome, and cerebral palsy, but we don’t base services solely on a diagnosis. We look at the child individually, how they function at home, at school, and in their community. Children do not necessarily have to have a specific diagnosis, but if they have a need in one of these areas, they can be evaluated by an occupational therapist to create goals that can help them be more functional and independent.

What does an OT evaluation look like?

The purpose of an occupational therapy evaluation is to get to know the child and their guardian(s), assess the child’s abilities and needs, and establish goals for therapy. During an occupational therapy evaluation, an OT meets with both the parent and the child, during which the OT will discuss the parent’s concerns. We would also do some standardized testing with the child, exploring all areas under the occupational therapy umbrella. We may assess sensory processing issues, fine motor skills, visual-perceptual skills, how they use their hands, play on the equipment, interact with the therapist, and interact with their family. The entire evaluation takes about 1-2 hours.

What does a typical OT session look like?

A typical therapy session lasts for about an hour. It is very play based, so we get down to the child’s level on the floor and find toys or play games based on the goals of therapy. From an outside perspective, it looks like we are just playing, but from the OT’s perspective, we are multitasking. We are assessing whether the child is working on their trunk or bilateral integration (if they are using both hands at the same time). We’re re-evaluating how the child is doing, and if there is a better position for us to put them in, but the child doesn’t really know that; they just think they are getting to play with toys or with a family member if present. Usually, we are doing more than one thing at a time, so maybe while we are swinging, we might be doing something that involves fine motor skills or gross motor skills.

What makes occupational therapy at Siskin Children's Institute different?

Siskin’s occupational therapy team, as well as the entire therapy team at Siskin, is different from other facilities because we take a multidisciplinary approach to care. Our occupational therapists work alongside physical and speech therapists as well as our medical team. We collaborate with the other departments to create a treatment plan to better meet your child’s needs.

How do therapists involve the family in therapy visits and at home?

We want to involve the family as much as possible. We want family members to know what we are doing, why we are doing it, and how they can replicate that same task or play skill at home. We often invite family members to attend therapy sessions, if possible. If the child doesn’t necessarily work as well with a family member in the room, we have observation rooms so that the family member can still watch what the child is doing.

How can families get connected to therapy services?

The best way for families to get connected to therapy services here at Siskin is to contact their pediatrician and talk to them about requesting a referral here to Siskin for occupational therapy. If the child is already getting medical services here at Siskin Children’s Institute, contacting the developmental pediatrician, nurse practitioner, or physician’s assistant about a referral to the therapy department works well too.