A Deep Dive Into Occupational Therapy


Psychological Testing and Therapy

Occupational therapy (OT) is a model of care that focuses on improving the skills needed to participate fully in everyday activities. While many people equate the term “occupation” to a job, it has a broader definition when it comes to occupational therapy. “Occupations” encompass many everyday activities, from play to grooming, feeding, and learning. Occupational therapists help people increase independence and enhance their quality of life by supporting the development of these vital skills. 

Children with autism and other developmental delays often struggle with skills related to daily living. They may experience sensory processing differences, challenges related to motor skills, emotional dysregulation, high impulsivity, and reduced ability to focus on tasks. Occupational therapy can be very beneficial for reducing these challenges and promoting a child’s overall well-being.  

Join us as we dive into all things occupational therapy, including the following:

  • The benefits of OT
  • How occupational therapy works
  • Insurance coverage for OT
  • …And more!

Benefits of Occupational Therapy

The ultimate goal of OT is to enhance a child’s quality of life by fostering skills that allow one to better access their environment and engage more meaningfully in everyday life. As such, there are many potential benefits of OT. Each child may experience different benefits based on their unique needs. 

Some of the benefits and areas of focus that occupational therapy can address include:

Increased independence and development of self-help skills–OTs often work with children on developing skills necessary for engaging in age-appropriate self-help skills, such as bathing, combing hair, washing hands, eating, and dressing. 

Enhanced focus and memory–Increasing a child’s ability to attend to tasks and activities, plan, prioritize, and recall events. 

Improved awareness of self–OT interventions can target proprioception, helping children recognize where their body parts are, improving coordination, balance, and more. 

Increased emotional regulation–Occupational therapists can help children develop effective coping strategies to improve their ability to self-regulate and deal with frustration in more adaptive ways. 

Strengthened motor skills–Improving fine motor skills, gross motor skills, and hand-eye coordination can help children develop vital lifelong skills, like moving about their environment, zipping or buttoning clothing, and using utensils for eating. 

Improved sensory processing–Sensory processing challenges can interfere with a child’s quality of life in numerous ways. OTs use sensory integration strategies to improve their ability to regulate and process sensory information.

Reduced impulsivity–OT can decrease impulsive behaviors by developing body awareness and improved sensory processing.

How Occupational Therapy Works

Before beginning occupational therapy, a board certified occupational therapist evaluates the child’s life experiences, strengths, and interests. The therapist uses this information to create an occupational profile, which informs them of the activities of the highest value to the child and family. From there, the OT creates an individualized intervention plan that outlines the goals and activities that will be targeted to allow the child to meet their short and long-term goals. The therapist discusses the plan with the child and caregiver(s), ensuring everyone is on the same page before initiating therapy sessions. 

During occupational therapy sessions, the therapist works directly with the child. Sessions are often provided in a play-based format. The OT implements exercises and activities that target the learner’s occupations of focus. The therapist may also suggest strategies and exercises the family can do with the child at home for consistency and continuity of care. As sessions progress, the therapist monitors progress to ensure that the interventions are successful.

How Occupational Therapy Works

How long are OT sessions?

The frequency and duration of OT can vary quite a bit depending on the setting, the learner’s needs, and the funding source. Typically, therapy sessions are 30-60 minutes 1-3x/week. There is no fixed timeframe for OT to last. Every child’s progression of care will vary. Some children may attend therapy for a relatively short period to work on a targeted skill. Others with more extensive needs may attend therapy for months or even years. 

Where do children receive occupational therapy?

Occupational therapy can be provided in any setting where daily activities occur. Children with autism commonly attend OT in a clinical therapy setting, with the child working 1:1 with the therapist. Many children also receive OT at school. The goals targeted in school-based OT often differ from those of clinic-based OT. Occupational therapy services provided in school as part of a child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) focus on improving skills that allow the child to participate in educational activities. Conversely, outpatient/clinic-based OT allows for a broader focus on skill development. It is not uncommon for children to receive both private and school-based OT. 


Other settings for occupational therapy include homes, hospitals, community settings, and other healthcare facilities. Some children even attend OT virtually, with the parent or caregiver participating and directed by the therapist. 

How do occupational therapists collaborate care?

Collaboration of care among therapy providers, educators, and other professionals is critical to a child’s success. Around 25% of children with autism attend three or more therapies at the same time. Further, nearly 66% of children with autism have received three or more therapies in the last 12 months, though not necessarily at the same time (Monz et al., 2019). Ensuring everyone is on the same page and goals complement each other can go a long way. Occupational therapists collaborate on their client’s care with other providers via meetings, phone calls, emails, observations, or co-treats.

At Therapeutic Treehouse, we recognize how exceptionally unique each child is, with a wide range of abilities and needs. Our multidisciplinary experts consistently work together to achieve the most optimal outcomes for each of our learners. 

Occupational Therapy Insurance Coverage

Occupational therapy is typically covered under most plans if the child demonstrates medical necessity. Most states have autism mandates, which require health plans to cover healthcare services related to an autism diagnosis, including OT, ABA, and speech therapy. A summary of each state’s autism insurance coverage laws can be found here. For information on whether occupational therapy is a covered benefit in your plan, it’s best to check with your insurance provider. 

Does My Child Need Occupational Therapy?

Many children with autism and other developmental delays benefit from OT, though it is not a one-size-fits-all treatment. If your child struggles with sensory processing, motor skills, emotional regulation, or other skills that affect their ability to participate in play, school, and daily living skills, OT may be a good fit. 

If you’re in the Palm Beach area, we would love to help you explore options for your child’s care. Therapeutic Treehouse is a multidisciplinary clinic supporting children with a wide range of needs through occupational therapy, speech therapy, and ABA. Contact us today to discuss your child’s needs!

Dr. Stephanie Renfrow only accepts private pay.
Very short waiting list for assessments!
For scheduling, please email: DR.RENFROW@GMAIL.COM
Call or Text: 561-413-7759
For more information, visit her websites at:

Located in Boca Raton