When should you see an occupational therapist?

This is a question many parents ask, mainly because the role of an occupational therapist can be vague. Let’s start by mentioning that this healthcare professional can be a good starting point when you have questions or concerns regarding various developmental aspects, since he considers the patient in their entirety instead of focusing on one aspect or one part of the body. Thus, the occupational therapist considers all the strengths and functional abilities of the individual as well as the factors facilitating or impeding his interaction with the surrounding environment.

By having an overview of the situation, the professional can better understand the underlying causes of the issue when analysing the individual’s development. This allows him to offer recommendations in order to help the child’s daily functioning and development.

Various diagnoses can lead to a referral in occupational therapy:
  • Developmental delays
  • Neurodevelopmental disorders
  • Learning disorders
  • Motor dyspraxia or developmental coordination disorder
  • Sensory integration or modulation disorder
  • ADHD or ADD
  • Anxiety
  • Behavioral disorders
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • And many more…

Nonetheless, the medical condition of the individual or the presence of a diagnosis are not exclusive reasons as to why an occupational therapist should be consulted. In fact, many daily situations can benefit from the work of this professional:
  • Difficulties in daily life’s activities (e.g., getting dressed, making the bed)
  • Difficulties to follow routines
  • Difficulties to organize oneself independently
  • Difficulties with hygiene care
  • Difficulties to feed oneself or with various types of food, texture or temperature
  • Difficulties following a group or socializing with peers
  • Difficulties with mobility or motor skills
  • Sensory difficulties (looking for or avoiding sensations such as odors, sounds, textures, touch)
  • And many more…

In short, any person presenting difficulties to accomplish activities or tasks can benefit from the services of an occupational therapist. This professional can help and support them when facing challenges, no matter the cause. However, it is important to keep in mind that not all people develop the same way and at the same rhythm. Thus, it is necessary to remain vigilant towards the challenges faced by the individual and to consult a professional if they persist.

*The use of the pronoun “he” is meant to alleviate the reading of this document.

References :
Caron Santha, J. (2019). Quand demander une consultation en ergothérapie? Retrieved from
Ergothérapie de la maison à l’école / EDME. (2018). Les motifs de consultation en ergothérapie. Retrieved from
Ordre des ergothérapeutes du Québec – OEQ. (2019). Pourquoi consulter un ergothérapeute? Retrieved from
Poirier, G. (n.d.). Quand consulter? Retrieved from https://www.ergotherapie-jeudenfant.com/quand-consulter

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