Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapy

What is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational therapy is a health profession concerned with promoting health and well-being through occupation. Occupation refers to everything that people do during the course of everyday life (CAOT Position Statement on Everyday Occupations and Health, 2003). The primary goal of occupational therapy is to enable people to participate in the occupations, which give meaning and purpose to their lives. In the case of young children their skill development is centred on play activities, as play is a child’s work.

Occupational therapists have a broad education that provides them with the skills and knowledge to work collaboratively with children and their family that experience obstacles to participation. These obstacles may result from a change in function (thinking, doing, feeling) because of illness or disability, and/or barriers in the social, institutional or and physical environment. (Adapted from the World Federation of Occupational Therapists, 2004)

Responsibilities and Activities

Occupational therapists use a systematic approach based on evidence and professional reasoning to enable individuals, groups and communities to develop the means and opportunities to identify, engage in and improve their functional skills. The process involves assessment, intervention and evaluation of the client related to occupational performance in self-care (toileting, dressing, feeding), play (fine motor, gross motor, toy interaction), art activities and productivity (drawing, pencil grasp, printing, visual motor and perceptual skills), social interaction (with other children and adults) and sensory integration (sensory input strategies).

Occupational therapists may assume different roles such as advising on health risks in the play environment, safe transportation for child and parent, and programs to promote mental health for child and family supports. Occupational therapists also perform functions as manager, researcher, program developer or educator in addition to the direct delivery of professional services.

The Occupational Therapist works in the following areas:

  • Fine Motor Skills - hand function, eye/hand coordination, pre-writing/writing skills. manual dexterity, grasp patterns
  • Activities of Daily Living Skills - dressing, feeding, grooming, hygiene
  • Perceptual/Cognitive Skills - design copying, matching, sequencing, color and number concepts, space and position concepts, memory
  • Sensory-Motor Skills - body image, body concept, motor planning, bilateral integration, laterality, tactile sensitivity, sensations of movement
  • Play Skills - age appropriate toys, social interaction, functional play
  • Specialized Equipment - mobility equipment, assisting devices and technology, home modifications, accessibility
  • Posture Control - positioning and posture control to increase function
  • Splinting - fabricate splints for neurological or orthopedic concerns

Mandate and Mission

To promote the development of functional independence in self-care, productivity (school and home), and leisure tasks.

Client Group

Children aged from birth to school entry that, have questionable, delayed or impaired motor abilities.


  • Assessment, consultation and intervention to promote children’s functional interdependence.
  • Individual goal planning with each child and family.
  • Assistance in identifying special equipment that may be beneficial and help obtaining this equipment.
  • Referral to a liaison with other services as appropriate.

Who Needs Occupational Therapy?

Children may be referred to Occupational Therapy when there are concerns with the child's occupational performance, often due to:

  • Difficulties completing Activities of Daily Living: self care, productivity (play, school) and leisure
  • Gross Motor/Fine Motor difficulties
  • Sensory Integration and Sensory Processing difficulties
  • Accessibility concerns
  • Position and Mobility concerns

Where Are Services Delivered?

Services are provided in preschools, home, the Quesnel and District Child Development Centre, and other community settings that meet the needs of the child.

How to Access an Occupational Therapist

The Quesnel and District Child Development Centre has an open referral system, any parent or professional with a concern about a child can call the Centre to arrange for a screening. All referrals are accepted and will go though the intake committee where the appropriate action will be discussed.


Initial consultations will take place as soon as possible. Children needing periods of weekly treatment may have to wait for a vacant suitable opening in a direct treatment timeslot. During that time the child will be referred to an appropriate program within the Centre to provide support. The family may also meet with the therapist on a regular basis for consultations during that time and some children are adequately managed by consultations only.

Policy Regarding Waitlist Management

When children are referred for services to Occupational therapy, they are assessed and either offered services immediately or placed on a waitlist with appropriate supports put into place. When taking children off the waitlist, several factors are taken into account:

  • The length of time since being placed on the waitlist.
  • The match between the family's expressed wishes for a particular type, time or place of service and the therapist's time slot which has become available.
  • The accessibility of the child and the caregivers.

When service comes available and the family is still requesting service. Initial consultations will take place as soon as an individual need and caseload demands allow.



Quesnel & District Child Development Centre

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Quesnel BC V2J 2P2
Ph: (250) 992-2481
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