Children's Community Occupational Therapy
Occupational therapists work with children and young people aged 0-19 who have difficulties with functional activities at home or at nursery/school/college. Our aim is to help children and young people build skills for life.
We provide a service to children and young people with physical needs, working in partnership with the individual, their family, their teachers and other relevant professionals. We provide expertise and support to help children and young people develop skills for daily life.
What we do
The Occupational Therapy Service can help if your child is having difficulties with any of the following:
Eating and drinking, or the mealtime routine
Dressing and undressing
Self-care and hygiene
Using the toilet
Using their hands to hold a pencil or other tools eg scissors or cutlery
Handwriting, drawing, pre-writing skills
Learning new skills
Being calm, alert and able to work
Before contacting us, think about whether the behaviours you are seeing in your child are because:
They cannot do the task
They’re not at the right stage of development yet
They’re affected by emotional or behavioural issues
A sensory issue is causing the difficulty with the task
They’re affected by social communication, understanding language and communication difficulties
Parents/carers can make direct referrals to the service [add link to referral form].
If your child fits the criteria, we will arrange an appointment.
Professionals can also refer to our service, with parental permission. [Add link to referral form].
We aim to see children and young people within 18 weeks of referral.
What to expect at your appointment
A member of the Occupational Therapy Team may telephone you ahead of the appointment and ask you a series of questions. This means you don’t have to talk about your child while they are in the room and gives us more time to assess them in the appointment.
At the appointment, the occupational therapist might play games with your child and complete activities related to any difficulties highlighted on the referral form. We may also do assessments with your child to gain further information about why your child is experiencing difficulties.
The therapist will discuss the findings from the session with you and explain what may be causing your child’s difficulties. We will try to agree a plan with you around next steps and what help, if any, your child may need.
We may then give you strategies to support your child at home and school, or it may be that a further appointment is needed. The therapist will be working on specific areas of need with your child. Once these have been addressed, your child will not need to be seen on an ongoing basis and will be discharged.
For small, one-off queries and concerns, or if your child does not fulfil the criteria for referral, you can attend one of our drop-in clinics. These take place via video call and allow a 20–30-minute appointment to discuss your concerns with a senior occupational therapist.
The types of issue we can deal with at a drop-in clinic include small concerns such as tying shoelaces, using cutlery and putting socks on.
The drop-in clinic is normally held on a Tuesday morning between 9am and 12 noon. To make an appointment, please call 020 3049 1337 or email LH.childrensOT@nhs.net. Once you've made an appointment, you will receive an email with instructions on how to log on to our video calling system.
During the appointment, the occupational therapist may ask your child to do some drawing or writing or to show some movements on camera. Your therapist will offer advice, or may recommend that you book a further appointment.
With your permission, the therapist will share information with your child’s health visitor, GP and school/nursery, so that they know what advice has been given. Please let the therapist know if you do not want them to share this information.
Other types of occupational therapy
Lewisham Council's Community Paediatric Occupational Therapy team can help with home equipment and adaptations. More information can be found on the Lewisham Council website.
South London and Maudsley (SLAM) NHS Trust runs the Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) Occupational Therapy Service. Further information can be found on the SLAM Trust website.
The Royal College of Occupational Therapy website gives additional information on the different types of occupational therapy services for children and young people.