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  • Writer's pictureTashya De Silva

The Basics: Occupational Therapy

Updated: Jan 18, 2021

Occupational therapy enables people of all ages to live life to its fullest by helping them promote health, and prevent—or live better with—injury, illness, or disability. In children, it is a common intervention for those with motor skills challenges such as Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, or sensory processing issues, executive functioning issues, as well as physical injuries or developmental delays.

The focus of Occupational Therapy is adapting. The Occupational Therapist (OT) looks at how you do any kind of activity or task. Then they come up with a plan to improve the way you do it to make it easier or less painful (this could include changing the way you perform a task or using assitive devices e.g. Cane, Walker, Brace etc.)

It can help your child perform any kind of task at school or home, such as:

  • Self-care routines like getting dressed (fine motor skills and motor planning)

  • Writing and copying notes (fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination)

  • Holding and controlling a pencil, using scissors (fine motor skills, motor planning)

  • Throwing and catching (gross motor skills like balance and coordination)

  • Organizing school bag (motor planning, organization skills)

  • Reacting to sensory input (self-regulation skills)

A few examples of activities that can be done at home to improve specific skills is given below:

Gross Motor Skills

Improving Balance and Coordination: a) Trampoline -install a trampoline at home or find out children's park/centres that may have similar equipment. It's important to maintain safety rules such as a jump bar. b) Encourage play on Hop Scotch - Hopping and Jumping requires good motor skills. You can draw the set up in your garage, garden with chalk/paint. If not, indoor hop scotch in the hallway is also a possibility with duct tape.

Fine Motor Skills

Improving handwriting: a) Use sensory processing to practice letter formation (e.g. child write letter in sandpaper, using whipped cream, or using a tracing app with a stylus on a tablet. b) Use speciality paper to help children write within the lines (e.g. bumpy baselines or bottom line highlighted) c) Instruction should start from easy to hard (e.g. Start with capital letters and straight lines and then more complex lowercase letters).

Sensory Processing Skills

Sensory Diet: Activate the following - 1. Tactile (Silly putty), 2. Movement/Vestibular (Run, Jump, Walk, March), 3. Oral Motor ( Eat crunchy food - carrots, apples), 4. Heavy Work (Carry grocerry bag, sweeping, Stir cookie dough) 5. Visual, Auditory & Olfactory ( Look at picture book, Play musical instruments, smell scented candles).

Disclaimer: The following information is not a suitable replacement for therapy or professional help. Mental health is very complex and there are various individual differences due to circumstances, genetics and life experience. All information published has been generalised and done in good faith. However, we will not be liable for any actions taken as a result of this website/post. If you are facing mental health concerns, it is important you reach out to a professional. You may also contact us at for further support.

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