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 a child’s skills.

Occupational therapy helps people with their daily occupations.

Occupations are all of the important jobs a person does in a day. For children this can include playing, eating, using the bathroom, dressing, grooming, and sometimes completing school work.

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.

Occupational Therapy Q&A

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 themselves, and even going to the grocery store with family are all occupations of life. We as 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.

What diagnosis usually requires Occupational Therapy?

Occupational Therapists see children on a wide variety of diagnoses like 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. We look at their occupations of life and how they are doing, are they able to be functional, or could they use more help. Children do not necessarily have to have a specific diagnosis, but if they have a need in one of those 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?

An occupational therapy evaluation would be the parent and the child and meet with the Occupational Therapist. It can take anywhere from an hour to two hours. The Occupational Therapist will get to know the parent and child, talk with the parent about what their concerns are based on what occupational therapy treats. We explain what occupational therapy is and give the parent some examples of what occupational therapy sessions and exercises would look like. We would also do some standardized testing with the child but make it fun and look at all the areas under the occupational therapy umbrella. We would look at sensory processing issues, fine motor skills, visual-perceptual skills, how they use their hands, play on equipment, interact with us, and interact with their family. Then, we create goals based on what the family and child’s needs are.

What does a typical OT session look like?

A typical therapy session will be the Occupational Therapist interacting with the child, typically for 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 what we are working on. From an outside perspective, it looks like we are just playing, but from the OT’s perspective, we are multi- tasking. We are looking at if the child is working on their trunk or bilateral integration (if they are using both hands at the same time). We’re reevaluating 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 they are with the child during their visit. 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 work along side each other. Occupational Therapy works alongside Physical Therapist and Speech Therapists. We can collaborate with the other departments to create a treatment plan through that collaboration to better meet those child’s needs. We have, not just a multidisciplinary approach with other therapists, but also with our medical team. Being able to speak directly to the medical team when that child receives services from one of our medical staff, I do not know if you can get that anywhere else.

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

We want to involve the family as much as possible. A lot of times we have the family members come back with us for the therapy visits. We want to education the family on what we are doing, why we are doing it, and how they can replicate that same task or play skill at home so that they can make gains faster. 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 while the Occupational Therapist can still be one-on-one with that child.

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.

Some specific areas Occupational Therapy can help with include:


  • Autism
  • Auditory processing delays
  • Behavior challenges
  • Developmental delays
  • Down’s syndrome
  • Feeding difficulties
  • Fine motor delays
  • Fine motor delays
  • Handwriting difficulties
  • Isolated socially
  • Learning disabilities
  • Pervasive developmental delay
  • Poor coordination
  • Sensory processing difficulties
  • Visual perceptual delay