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Occupational therapy

Paediatric occupational therapists assess and treat children who have difficulties that affect their ability to do every day physical activities.

In a nursery or pre-school, an occupational therapist looks particularly at a child’s general development. This can be monitored through play and self-care activities such as:

  • handling toys and books
  • playing outdoors with balls and bikes
  • eating, washing hands, getting dressed and being part of a group

They will also pay special attention to the way children:

  • socialise
  • listen and respond to other children
  • communicate with adults

Close observation of children’s behaviour and skills helps detect difficulties that could affect behaviour and the ability to develop more complex physical skills through childhood and into adult life.

When to refer to occupational therapy

Your child may be referred to an occupational therapist when there are specific concerns about physical skills in nursery or school, or when there is already a known diagnosis that affects your child's motor skills. This could include difficulties with:

  • Fine motor skills, posture, attention, concentration and play
  • Drawing and handwriting
  • Cutting with scissors
  • Self-help skills (such as difficulty with dressing or eating)
  • Sitting posture at a desk or workstation
  • Physical education (such as difficulty with co-ordination, balance and general movement)

If you are concerned about your child’s development and feel they may need an assessment from an occupational therapist, you should first:

  • speak to the special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO) at your local children’s centre or day nursery
  • contact the Early Years service occupational therapists
  • contact the Special Needs Service in Kensington and Chelsea
  • contact a paediatrician via the Child Development Service or the Community Child Health Team

With the support of one of these professionals you may wish a referral form to be completed so that you can access the continued help of the Special Needs Service in the borough.

Eligibility for special needs support

Eligibility: Children who reside or attend children’s centres, daycare, pre-schools or schools in the borough

Exclusions: Children who are already currently receiving on-going occupational therapy (from National Health or Family Services)

For further information please contact:

  • Children's Occupational Therapy Department
    Imperial College Healthcare
    St Mary's Hospital, Praed Street
    London W2 1NY
    Tel: 020 7886 6098
    Fax: 020 7886 1597
  • Children and Young People's Occupational Therapy Team
    Therapy Team
    Hammersmith and Fulham PCT
    St Dunstan’s Clinic, St Dunstan’s Road, London
    Tel: 020 8846 1602
Last Updated 04/12/2018

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