Children and young people learn, acquire and develop skills through the means of play. This helps them to understand the world around them. They learn social skills such as sharing, turn taking and self-discipline, which in turn supports their emotional and intellectual development. Children will turn lots of things into play, from playing in mud or cardboard boxes through to computer games. Playing also helps children to develop their physical skills, such as running, jumping and climbing.

For children who have difficulties with play, such as dressing a doll, or riding a bike, they may also have difficulties which can impact their daily life and activities. Simple tasks such as fastening a coat or feeding can become a challenge.

Occupational Therapists work with children and young people, their parents, carers and other healthcare and educational professionals to minimise these difficulties and enable children to play more productively.

The Children’s Occupational Therapy service specialises in working with children and young people from birth to 18 years. We support children and young people with physical, sensory, developmental, cognitive and social needs that affect their functional abilities and impact on their daily life. CFHDevon provides NHS Children’s Occupational Therapy services in North, South and Eastern Devon and in some areas other providers also provide these services.

There are many reasons why your child may be having difficulty with coordination and movement skills and not all of these will be permanent or require help from an Occupational Therapist. You might see these difficulties if your child is not able to ride a tricycle, kick a football, skip and a variety of other issues.

How can we help?

Before requesting help from us, if you think the child or young person has difficulties which we would be able to help with, please use the toolkits listed below. These toolkits will help you, and us, to establish your child or young person’s level of need and collect information which will be useful when we first see them.

Please follow the instructions in the toolkit, implement the strategies suggested within them and keep a record of the results as we will require you to submit this information to us if you find that you do need assistance from the Occupational Therapy Service.

We ask you to use these toolkits and strategies for two to three months before asking to be referred or making a referral yourself to Occupational Therapy. It is also helpful if your child or young person has completed two terms of the Fun Fit programme at school.

Fun Fit

The Fun Fit programme is aimed at children across the county of primary school age. Two members of staff in each primary school should be trained in using the programme to enhance children’s posture and coordination.

The programme especially helps children who struggle with their motor skills, i.e. problems with dressing, poor handwriting or cutlery skills, they bump into things a lot, or if they have low self esteem.

What happens next?

Once you have completed the toolkits and been referred to CFHDevon, we will review the referral and make a decision about the most appropriate service to help your child or young person with their difficulties. If we accept the referral, we will contact you with an appointment.

As part of this process, we may discuss your child’s difficulties with other colleagues to ensure we are the most appropriate service to see your child and we may also suggest a joint assessment with another service.

If we accept your child’s referral we will aim to see them within 18 weeks, but there may be variations to this timeline associated with urgency, prioritisation of risk, staffing levels, demand and other factors.

While you wait to be seen, continuing to implement the strategies in the toolkits and continuing to keep a record of progress will benefit your child or young person  as you can share these results with us during your assessment.

Self referral

You can now self-refer your child into this service. For more information please view this guide on how to self refer.

For details of what the service supports and what supporting documentation you require for your referral, please view the request criteria page.

At your first appointment

We will discuss your child’s difficulties with you and your child and carry out an assessment, including observing your child undertaking a variety of tasks.

Based on the information gathered at this appointment we may offer you advice and strategies to help your child overcome their difficulties or, if required, we may set goals with you and your child and plan the package of support we will offer – which we refer to as an ‘intervention’.

The intervention might be an individual programme, one to one sessions or group based work which helps your child overcome their difficulties and maximises their independence.  Your appointment will be in a clinic near to your home, at home or in school and will vary in length generally between one and six sessions. On occasion, in very specific circumstances, this support will last for longer.

Home and school programmes

We may include a Home and School Programme to incorporate intervention activities into everyday life. These programmes rely on the support of parents and teachers to ensure that they are carried out and to ensure they are effective. If we think this will help your child or young person we will discuss this with you at your appointment.

What is the process?