Occupational Therapy for Children and Young People

Practical Support to Empower Young People

What is the service?

Occupational therapists provide practical support to empower people to overcome barriers preventing them from doing the activities (or occupations) that matter to them. An occupational therapist’s goal is to try to support people to increase their independence and satisfaction in all aspects of life by enabling them to participate in meaningful occupations. Occupations for children and young people may include: areas of self-care (for example getting ready to go out, eating a meal, using the toilet); work or being productive (for example playing, attending school or college, volunteering, caring for others); and leisure (for example playing with friends, socialising with friends, doing hobbies or sports). 

There may be a number of barriers to a child or young person participating in occupation; these could include poor gross and fine motor co-ordination, poor core stability, poor motor planning skills, visual perceptual difficulties, sensory difficulties, mental health and social and emotional difficulties. An occupational therapist will spend time finding out about a child and their family’s typical daily life and what they want, need or are expected to do. They will then work together with the child, family and other key people to evaluate what helps or hinders their involvement in daily life roles. After establishing these things possible solutions will be developed, these may involve support to learn new skills, exploring alternative ways of doing things or making changes to the environment to support participation.


    More Information on Occupational Therapy

    Occupational Therapy with Children and Young People

    Royal College of Occupational Therapists (2015) Occupational Therapy with Children and Young People – Fact Sheet

    What is Occupational Therapy?

    Royal College of Occupational Therapists (2019) What is Occupational Therapy?

    Sensory Processing Assessment

    Sensory processing is about how our brain receives and processes sensory information so that we can do the things we need to do in our everyday life. Difficulties with effectively processing and acting on the information from the senses can cause significant challenges within daily life and contribute to other conditions including anxiety and depression. Sensory processing difficulties are commonly associated with neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism and ADHD, but there is increasing evidence to suggest that sensory processing difficulties can affect individuals with a number of other conditions. Research in America has suggested that 1 in every 6 children experiences sensory symptoms that may be significant enough to affect aspects of everyday life functions.

    Indicators that a child is having difficulty with sensory processing can include:

    • Being over OR under responsive to specific sensory stimuli (sights, sounds, tastes, smells, touch). For example things that should cause discomfort like being too hot or too cold may prompt little response, or other things like a dog barking can cause a response akin to physical distress and extreme anxiety.
    • Intolerance or certain textures or clothing, for example not wanting to wear certain fabrics or having to remove the labels from all clothing.
    • Intolerance of certain noises or loud noises, for example disliking the sound of vacuums, sirens, or crying babies. These noises may cause what feels like physical pain and make it difficult to concentrate or function.
    • Dislike of specific food textures or colours.
    • Difficulty completing fine motor skills, e.g. like using pencils or pens, dressing self independently or using cutlery.
    • Clumsiness, often bumping into things or people and not seeming to have awareness as to where there body is in relation to space and other objects.

    A sensory processing assessment is completed by an occupational therapist with specific training in the area. It involves collecting background information regarding the difficulties that an individual is experiencing, how their sensory processing is impact on these difficulties and identifying the goals that the individual would like to achieve. After this standardised assessments such as the Sensory Profile or Sensory Processing Measure are then completed. These are observation based or self-report assessments that enable evaluation of an individual’s responses to everyday sensory experiences. The results provide an increased awareness and understanding of sensory processing preferences not only for the individual but also others, such as health professional or family and friends. Upon completion of the assessment specific recommendations can be made as to what will assist individuals with their specific sensory processing needs. If required, further sessions can be arranged to discuss strategies that can be used to support an individual’s sensory processing or to try out sensory interventions based on Ayers Sensory Integration Theory.

    How To Access The Service

    All therapies are accessed via our Initial Therapies Assessment. 

    To refer yourself to our general therapies service, or just to talk to us about whether we can help, please call us on 01904 412551.


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    Why choose The Retreat?




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    Rated their therapy as very helpful

    Helping People…

    We support people and help them recover, using a wide range of different therapies and assessments.

    We also diagnose people with autism, ADHD, eating disorders and psychological trauma.

    What is Online/Video Therapy?

    Our online therapy service allows us to offer help and support to people not able to access our York-based service face-to-face. Online therapy is a developing area for counselling and psychotherapy, and is also known as webcam counselling, e-therapy, web therapy, internet therapy and distance therapy. This service allows you all the benefits of face-to-face sessions with a therapist, via your personal computer and from the comfort of your home. 

    Our skilled counsellors, psychologists and therapists will listen to you in a non-judgmental way in a private, confidential setting. They can help you with your current difficulties, past experiences or anxieties about your future with the aim of helping you improve the quality of your life and relationships.

    What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

    Any one of us can experience something that we find traumatic. This could be something recent that has happened to us or it could be from our earlier years. Either way, around 30% of people who experience something traumatic go on to develop symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Traumatic events can vary widely, from road traffic or other accidents, involvement in military combat, near death experiences, or some form of abuse as a child or adult.

    PTSD is a name given to a range of symptoms that someone may experience. Often, when we experience a situation that is traumatic, we may at first feel quite numb, but later experience symptoms such as:

    • Nightmares or frightening thoughts
    • Re-living the traumatic event, often termed ‘flashbacks’
    • Avoidance of reminders of the event and of talking about it
    • Irritability or outbursts of anger
    • Hyper vigilance and alertness to possible danger
    • Problems with concentration and memory.

    These are all symptoms of PTSD and are usually very distressing to us.

    What is Autism?

    Autism is a lifelong developmental condition that affects how a person communicates with and relates to other people, and how they experience the world around them.

    It is a spectrum condition, which means that, while all people with autism share certain difficulties, their condition will affect them in different ways.

    Some people with autism can live relatively independent lives, but others may have accompanying learning disabilities and need a lifetime of specialist support.

    What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?

    Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a group of behavioural symptoms that include:

    • Inattentiveness – most people with ADHD will have a short attention span and may be easily distracted.
    • Hyperactivity – there is likely to be some restlessness, fidgeting or overactivity. This can also lead to difficulties in sleeping and increased anxiety.
    • Impulsiveness – people with ADHD may do things without thought for the consequences, without very much reflection and without having a plan.

    Some adults will have ADHD without it being diagnosed at a younger age. Those who are diagnosed at a young age are likely to continue to experience problems, though the symptoms might reduce.

    What therapies do you offer?

    We offer a range of individual and group therapies in line with NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) guidance. All of our therapists are highly trained, experienced and committed to continued professional development. Many therapists have training in more than one therapy modality, and are therefore in the best position to offer tailored, individualised therapy to meet your needs, drawing from the most up to date, evidence-based interventions.

    Our therapies are usually delivered face to face, in relaxing therapy rooms. However if you are unable to come to The Retreat for your appointments, whatever the reason, we may be able to offer you an appointment via video link, using a secure platform called VSEE. 

    How do I access the service?

    All therapies are accessed via our Initial Therapies Assessment. 

    To refer yourself to our general therapies service, or just to talk to us about whether we can help, please call us on 01904 412551.

    Is the service confidential?

    All our services are confidential, and our therapists and clinicians follow professional codes of conduct which include principles around confidentiality. This means we will not disclose information about you to a third party without your consent, unless we had significant concern for either your safety or the safety of someone else. We would make every attempt to discuss this with you if the situation arose.

    Can I get involved in The Retreat?

    We welcome representation from people who have finished their therapy or support within our services. There are a number of ways you can get involved, from joining us at information sharing events, helping us raise the profile of our services through the media, or consulting with us to help develop new service or recruit new staff. Please contact us for more information. 

    Get in Touch. Talk to us.

    If you need to speak to us, we are here to help. Our team of qualified therapists are at your service in person, or via a video call.

    Heslington Rd, York, YO10 5BN

    Call Us: 01904 412 551