Common Terms Areas Addressed Common Diagnoses
Additional Diagnoses Common Techniques Milestones

Common Techniques

  • Common Techniques in Pediatric Occupational Therapy


    • Often considered a child’s primary occupation

    • Key component if cognitive, physical, and motor development

    • “Play is a child’s way of learning and an outlet for an innate need of activity. It is the child’s business or career (work).” – Alessandroni, 1949.

    • Child must be actively engaged in the play and not a passive observer

    • Children are intrinsically motivated to be involved with activity

    Infant Stimulation

    • Infant massage

    • Rocking in suspended hammocks

    • Waterbeds

    • Rocking

    • Recordings of mother’s heart beat

      • Used to recreate the environment inside the womb

      • Promote faster weight gain

    • Increase sleep patterns

    • Advance sensory processing development

    • Advance mental and motor development patterns

    Reflex Testing

    • Reflex: inborn, automatic response to a particular form of stimulation

    • Reflexes are the most obvious organized behavior patterns

      • Most disappear or “integrate” into non-reflexive patterns, others
        are present throughout the lifespan

      • If there is difficulty in development and/or lack of development of
        early reflexes may interfere with the development of later, more
        permanent reflexes

    Neurodevelopmental therapy (NDT)

    • Normal postural reactions are necessary for normal movement and these
      postural reactions are mostly automatic

    • Facilitate normal patterns of movement and postural reactions through
      handling techniques while inhibiting abnormal movement patterns and
      reflexes as development of normal patterns of movement are considered to
      be hierarchical

    • To address delay based on NDT: inhibit abnormal movement, facilitate
      automatic responses, and encourage voluntary reactions, adjust to challenge
      as control and normal movement patterns increase to provide a child with the
      “most normal” pattern of movement

    Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF)

    • Based on the principle that development occurs in specifically designed sensory motor principles and there needs to be a balance between the muscles that create a motion or movement in a smooth, controlled manner

    Myofacial Release

    • Technique which applies sustained pressure to eliminate pain and restore flexibility and motion to the fascia (connective tissue)

    Sensory Integration Therapy

    • Designed for the specific needs of the child

    • Wilbarger Brushing Protocol

      • Developed by Julia Wilbarger, MEd, OTR, FAOTA

        • Can improve ability to transition between activities

        • Tactile defensiveness

        • Self-regulation, self-calming

        • Improve nervous system processing

        • Can improve attention and focus

    • Oral motor Therapy

      • High facial

      • Flaccid facial tone

      • Evaluation of child necessary to design program

    • Cranial-Sacral Therapy

      • Using touch to release blockages of cerebrospinal fluids leading to better CNS functioning

      • Considered an alternative therapy


    • Music Therapy

    • Interactive Metronome

      • Uses rhythm of a metronome to improve timing in the mind used to help children with learning disabilities and developmental disorders used for

        • Motor planning

        • Language deficits

        • Organizational skills

        • Memory

        • Attention

        • Concentration

        • Language processing

        • Motor coordination

        • Impulsivity control

        • Auditory processing

        • Sequencing

        • Timing


    • Brain Gym

      • Based on research by Paul Dennison, Ph.D. that cross lateral movements can encourage whole brain learning

      • Outlines a services of exercises aimed at using physical movements to enhance learning.