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
- 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.