Pediatric occupational therapy (OT) aims to help children achieve independence for play, self-care, socialization, and leisure. OT promotes the development of fine motor, sensory motor, and visual motor skills that children need to engage in meaningful activities of daily life in their home, school, play, and community environments.

Pediatric occupational therapy facilitates:

  • oral-motor development and hand skills for feeding and drinking
  • muscle strength, range of motion, and endurance for fine motor hand/finger skills
  • eye-hand coordination for handwriting and recreational tasks
  • self-help and life skills such as bathing, dressing, feeding, grooming, etc.
  • sensory processing and behavioral strategies for improved attention, concentration, and behavioral regulation for everyday tasks and play activities
  • social and play skills for peer interaction
  • organizational abilities to manage the environment
  • visual memory and sequencing skills to improve reading and writing skills

CTC ‘s pediatric occupational therapists have received special training in Sensory Processing Disorders, Auditory/Listening Therapy and Feeding Therapy.

Sensory Processing Disorders occur when one or more of our sensory systems have difficulties accurately processing environmental stimuli. A child with sensory processing difficulties may interpret a gentle touch as extremely invasive and react with “fight/fright/flight” reactions. Things that may be interpreted by others as pleasurable may be interpreted as painful by this child. Sensory integration treatment can help this child to process sensory stimuli more accurately.

Many children who have sensory processing and integration difficulties have listening difficulties particularly auditory defensiveness or auditory over-reactivity. These children often will cover their ears in response to low-frequency sounds (such as vacuum cleaners, and hair dryers), or sudden sounds (such as sneezing or screaming). Therapeutic listening is designed to help improve processing and reduce these sensitivities.

A variety of programs are available to deliver auditory/listening therapy. One of the best known is the Therapeutic Listening® (TL) program, which is used in combination with occupational therapy at the WHS Children’s Therapy Center. The Therapeutic Listening® program was designed to help balance, strengthen and/or restore a person’s ability to listen to and process sounds across the full auditory spectrum. The program uses the organized sound patterns inherent in music to impact all levels of the nervous system. Auditory information from the program’s specialty music chips provides direct input to both the vestibular and the auditory portions of the vestibular-cochlear system. Therapy emphasizes blending sound intervention strategies with postural, movement and respiratory activities. The music on Therapeutic Listening® music chips is electronically altered to elicit the orienting response, which sets the body up for sustained attention and active listening.

To learn more about Therapeutic Listening®, visit:

The Occupational Therapists and Speech Pathologists at CTC are highly experienced in treating children with feeding challenges related to oral motor, behavioral and sensory disturbances. We have therapists trained and certified in the SOS (Sequential-Oral-Sensory) Approach to Feeding.

When should my child have a feeding evaluation?

If ANY of the following are present:

  • Frequent choking, coughing or gagging during meals
  • Excessive drooling or leaking food/liquid from the mouth
  • Ongoing problems with vomiting
  • Less than normal weight gain or growth(as per doctor)
  • Multiple incidents of nasal reflux
  • Unable to transition to baby food purees by 10 months
  • Unable to accept any table food solids by 12 months
  • Unable to transition from breast/bottle to a cup by 16 months
  • Has not weaned off baby foods by 16 months
  • Aversion or avoidance of a wide range of tastes, temperatures, or textures of foods.
  • Food acceptance of less than 20 foods, especially if foods are being dropped over time with no new foods  replacing those lost
  • Arching or stiffening at most meals
  • Family is fighting about food & feeding (i.e., meals are battles)
  • Parent reports that the child is difficult for everyone to feed
  • Parental history of an eating disorder, with a child not meeting weight goals
  • Overstuffs mouth with food
  • Prolonged feeding times (more than 30 minutes)
  • Wet/gurgly, hoarse, or breathy voice quality
  • Recurring pneumonia or respiratory infections
  • Difficulty coordinating breathing with eating or drinking
  • Frequent spitting-up
  • Difficulty transitioning to age-appropriate methods of oral intake (bottle to cup, spoon feeding, self-feeding, etc.)

As part of the feeding assessment, the child will be observed eating a variety of preferred and non-preferred foods. The Occupational Therapist &/or Speech Pathologist will observe the child for signs of oral motor difficulties, as well as, sensory defensiveness or hypo-responsiveness, which may contribute to the child’s eating difficulties. Consults with behavioral health specialists and nutritionists are incorporated as needed. A doctor’s prescription will be needed for the evaluation. Treatment recommendations will be provided to the family, as well as the referring physician.