The Role of Occupational Therapy


Parents are often surprised to hear that their child may need help from a pediatric Occupational Therapist. The term occupation refers to our vocational roles in life. Children have a variety of roles: being a student, a son or a daughter, a sibling, and a friend.

At SUMA KIDS we use our unique expertise and medical based training to help children develop the important foundational skills necessary for their critical occupational roles. We use the model of play using a sensory enriched environment with familiar toys, games and school materials to build the necessary foundational skills - ensuring that children will be interested in working on areas of challenge. We focus on the neurological basis of learning and look at underlying causes for difficulties your child may be having. Our goal is to assist your child in becoming an independent, successful student and member of his or her community.

Occupational therapy is primarily concerned with the motor, sensory and behavioral foundations of gross motor control, fine motor expression and visual perceptual development necessary for skill development. Areas of focus may include: postural stability, motor planning, fine motor skill development, sensory regulation, oral-motor sensitivity, visual perceptual skills, modulation and/or processing, self-regulation, environmental adaptations, self-care tasks, social and play skills. 

Sensory Integration’s Role in Early Intervention (for children 0-3 years of age)

Early intervention services incorporate typical childhood play activities in a natural setting, these services work with the child at a time in their life when their nervous system is still growing and is very elastic. It is a time when the most significant change can occur and have a lasting effect on a child’s sensory and motor development. Intervention at this age, provides a boost to young children giving them a greater chance at being more successful in their later years, both at school and in their community.


Sensory Integration’s Role in Preschool (for children ages 3-5 years) 

In pre-school, early childhood experiences, like walking the balance beam, playing the rhythm sticks, attending circle time activities, pouring juice, asking and answering questions, and interacting amicably with others, build healthy neurological development. While all children can thrive in this environment, those children with sensory integration dysfunction are not as adept as their peers. Sensory integration treatment, along with a home program of specialized activities, enhances the child’s neurological organization and often helps the family better understand their child.

Sensory Integration’s Role for Elementary school age children (years 5-11)

In elementary school, childhood experiences such as playing on the monkey bars, sitting attentively with good posture, learning to read and write, asking and answering meaningful questions, looking at the board and back at their paper, and interacting appropriately with others, continue to contribute to neurological development. Occupational therapy at this stage provides therapeutic intervention by incorporating typical childhood play activities while gradually increasing the challenges to the child’s sensory system. Therapy sessions involve play on suspended equipment and a variety of new tasks to challenge and strengthen your child’s developing skills.

SI Therapy's lasting effects

Sensory integration therapy very often provides significant change and can have a lasting effect on a child’s motor and sensory development giving them the ability to be successful as they continue to grow, develop and navigate their environment.

The SPD checklist

If you are unsure whether or not Sensory Integration therapy is right for your child the: SPD checklist will help educate you about particular signs of sensory processing dysfunction. Please note the check list is not a diagnostic tool but rather, a tool to help you better understand your child’s needs.  

More Information (for Asperger’s syndrome and nonverbal learning disorder)