Occupational therapists help children with special educational needs, elderly people who need help to function at home, and anyone who has a disability and who needs help to gain maximum independent function.

Occupational therapists work with children in a variety of settings, such as:

  • specialist departments in or affiliated to general hospitals
  • children’s hospitals
  • psychiatric hospitals
  • schools
  • residential care settings
  • the child’s own home.

Occupational therapists are employed by:

  • health trusts
  • social services departments
  • some independent special schools
  • independent and voluntary organisations.

Children can be referred to an occupational therapist through the local social services department or their family doctor.

Occupational therapists work with children who have:

  • physical disabilities as a result of cerebral palsy, spina bifida, head injuries, neurological disorders and other conditions
  • limb deficiencies as a result of congenital problems or traumatic amputations
  • learning disabilities
  • developmental coordination disorder as a result of dyspraxia (children often described as clumsy)
  • classroom activities – for helping to devise and implement handwriting programmes
  • ensuring the effectiveness of seating adaptations in the classroom setting
  • advising on and providing a range of equipment or adaptations for schools, especially designed for use by or with disabled children eg. splints, standing frames, wheelchair trays, adjustable tables, bookstands, toilet adaptations, hoists
  • working through people – training parents and others, including teachers and support staff.
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