What’s Occupational Therapy?


The primary goal of occupational therapy is to enable people to participate in the activities of everyday life. Occupational therapists work with people, for whom participation in activities of daily life is more challenging. As a paediatric occupational therapist I work with children and teens, from 2-18 years. And what activities do children and teens need to do to participate in everyday life: Have fun, make friends, have the ability to attend and concentrate at school, and be part of family life.

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Enabling people to participate in the activities of everyday life is such a broad description! To help focus on the task at hand occupational therapists have divided the activities of daily living for children into three categories:

1) Self-care

2) Play

3) Learning

Participating in the activities of self-care, play and learning involve a complex combination of sub skill sets. Here lies the role of the occupational therapist. The therapist will assess the child to highlight specific areas of difficulty. The therapist will then work with the child, their parents and their school to develop meaningful goals for occupational therapy intervention.

Sub skill set(s) which may need intervention, to allow the child to participate fully in every day life include:

  • Gross motor skills and/or fine motor skills
  • Motor planning and coordination
  • Hand eye coordination
  • Body awareness
  • Handwriting skills and /or keyboard skills
  • Ability to remain seated during school time
  • Play skills for e.g. the ability to turn take, understand the rules of games-winning and losing, display flexible and imaginative thinking
  • Social skills and behavioral-adaptive skills i.e., coping skills, establishing friendships, cooperative play with peers
  • Sensory regulation and sensory modulation
  • Attention and concentration
  • Planning, organising and sequencing
  • Ability to follow instructions
  • Ability to follow a structure ,as well as use own initiative and cope with unstructured time
  • Visual perceptual skills
  • Positive self-image, confidence and self-esteem.

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What to do if you feel concerned about your child?

Children grow and develop at different rates. However, most pass through an identifiable skill set along the way. Called developmental milestones, these are skills which build on each other, from simple to complex, during predictable time periods. If you are concerned about your child reaching his/her developmental milestones, its best to make contact with your GP, and discuss your concerns. Explore with your GP if a referral to an occupational therapist is needed. There is a public Occupational therapy system as well as private occupational therapists. A list of registered private occupational therapists is available at www.aoti.ie

If you child has a diagnosis:

Occupational therapy is a client centred profession, this means that the therapist works closely with the family, school and child to ensure therapy provided is client centred.  If your child has a diagnosis but you feel that he/she is not currently reaching their full potential, or you have concerns regarding their everyday functioning contact your local occupational therapy team or a private occupational therapist.

Sinead Moynihan

Sinead Moynihan, is a paediatric occupational therapist with over 5 years’ experience working with children and teens on the autistic spectrum. Sinead uses an integrated approach; combining occupational therapy, special yoga techniques and sensory integration tools to guide her intervention sessions. Sinead is available Tuesday and Wednesdays at The Children’s Clinic Cork, offering occupational therapy sessions, comprehensive assessments, as well as home and school visits. Sinead loves to share her knowledge, and is a passionate educator offering practical hands on training for teachers and parents/caregivers. Sinead is registered with the Association Of Occupational Therapists of Ireland, and CORU Registered. For more info check out www.sineadmoynihan.ie or https://youtu.be/ZdjI2WFHKWU