Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapy in Early Intervention: Helping Children Succeed

Early childhood years 0-3 years of age are a critical time for brain development, especially if a child is delayed or restricted in development. If a child needs support to develop optimally, occupational therapy can help.

There are programs called early intervention across the country that are funded by federal, state, and local dollars. Early intervention is a collection of therapy and support services that provide children from birth to 3 years old who have disabilities, or who are at risk for developing them, the help they need to succeed later in life. Occupational therapy is one of several services that may be provided as part of early intervention. It benefits children with many specific conditions (e.g., Down syndrome, autism), in addition to children with no clear diagnosis.

For children with developmental delays or a known physical or mental condition associated with a high probability of delays, occupational therapy can help improve their motor, cognitive, sensory processing, communication, and play skills. The goal is to enhance development, minimize the potential for developmental delay, and help families to meet the special needs of their infants and toddlers.