Children’s Occupational Therapy

The Children’s Occupational Therapy (OT) service is a specialist service working across the county. This service is for children, their families and carers in Gloucestershire across hospital, community and educational settings.

About this service

We support children and young people to reach their full potential and independence in daily activities at home, school, college and in the community.

This includes children up to the age of 18 years:

  • who are leaving hospital following illness or injury and need therapy*
  • who have physical difficulties as a result of illness or disability
  • who have functional difficulties as a result of developmental coordination disorder
  • who have a physical disability and attend a mainstream nursery, school or one of the designated special schools in the county and need occupational therapy help with education
  • children who have functional difficulties as a result of a learning disability or Autistic Spectrum Disorder*

This also includes:

  • Children aged between 3-19 years with a long-term disability which impacts on normal day-to-day activities, and who need Occupational Therapy support to access a care placement such as Family Link or foster care
  • Young people up to the age of 19 years who access full time education with functional difficulties.

*For contact details for hospital discharge, ASD or autism support, visit the further information section below

Following an assessment appointment, we will work with you to plan the next steps (an intervention) which is based on the individual needs. As part of this, we will agree goals and targets with the child, parents and carer which may involve specialist advice, equipment, accessing specialist therapy programmes or arranging specialist adaptations to the environment at home or school.


Our occupational therapists are trained to assess, advise and support children and young people with any disability. We can help with everyday tasks at home, school and at play.



We can help with:

  • specialist equipment
  • home adaptations
  • development of play and personal care skills
  • splinting for chronic conditions
  • coordination and fine motor skills development
  • impact of sensory processing on functional activities
  • school advice.

Our ultimate goal is to enable children, young people and their carers to participate in the activities of everyday life in the short and long-term. This may include self-care, such as getting ready to go out or eating a meal, being productive by going to nursery or school or leisure activities such as playing with friends or doing hobbies.

Resources & information for families

Please explore our Occupational Therapy toolkit for helpful resources and information below:

Eating and drinking

Mealtimes are an important aspect of family life. Children begin to develop self-feeding skills from birth. Self-feeding is a very complex task and it is common for children to have difficulty using cutlery to feed themselves. It usually takes until a child is 7 years old before they can successfully use cutlery to feed themselves without being too messy.

The following activities use some of the same skills necessary for using cutlery.  They will give your child opportunity to practise the skills, other than at mealtimes.  Any games or activities that encourage the child to hold one hand still whilst moving the other hand will help with the foundation skills for using cutlery.

  • Using a dustpan and brush – emphasise keeping the dustpan still and moving the brush. Your child may be tempted to move both together at the same time.
  • Using scissors – start with easy patterns and progress to more complex designs.
  • Using playdough – practise cutting using cutlery.
  • Cooking / Baking – holding a bowl while mixing with a spoon or spooning the mixture out of the bowl.
  • Colouring – ensure the paper is held with one hand whilst the other hand does the colouring.
  • Opening screw top bottles and jars.
  • Construction games.

Gradually introduce other foods and keep going back to the foods your child did not like before. Children’s tastes change. One day they’ll hate something, but a month later they may love it. Keep offering a variety of foods – it may take lots of attempts before your child accepts some foods. Find out more here>

Cambridgeshire Community Services have kindly given us permission to share their useful Development of Cutlery Skills printable guidance sheet>


Cycling is a complex activity requiring motor planning and balancing skills which some children with co-ordination difficulties find difficult to master. The skill can be taught by breaking it down into small steps to help children learn how to plan and organise their body movements.

Before attempting to teach your child bike riding, remember:

  • Your child needs to ‘want’ to learn and being motivated is essential
  • Choose a time when you can dedicate some regular practice e.g. daily in the holidays or after school
  • Make sure the bike is in good working order and is an appropriate size and weight for your child i.e. BMX stunt bikes tend to be heavy, with low set handlebars and therefore are not always the ideal first bike
  • Ensure a safe and obstacle free space to practice
  • Check the brake levers are positioned so that they are in front of the handlebars, rather than below where they are harder to squeeze
  • Initially set the bike’s saddle at a height where your child’s feet are flat on the floor
  • Ensure your child always wear a helmet.

Brushing teeth

A regular teeth-cleaning routine is essential for good dental health. Follow these tips and you can help keep your kids’ teeth decay-free>

Dental Check by One
All parents and guardians are advised to ensure that young children in their care are taken to see a dentist as soon as their first teeth come through, and before their first birthday. Find out more about Dental Check by One here>

Watch this NHS video for tips on how to clean your child’s teeth>

Toilet training and continence

Our Health Visiting team has developed a Handy Guide to toilet training PowerPoint with guidance and advice as to when your child is ready, bladder and bowel function and constipation, along with links to further useful resources.

ERIC is the only UK charity dedicated to improving the lives of children and young people with continence problems. It also has information on toilet training. Find ERIC’s website here>

Getting dressed

Learning to dress independently is an important life skill that takes a lot of practice, but it will provide your child with a sense of achievement to master a new skill.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde have developed a really useful site which includes hints and tips, information sheets, videos and visual aids. Access the resources here>

Useful links

Home Safety Team

The Home Safety Team is a part of the Children’s Occupational Therapy Team, but they work with children under the age of five. Find out more>

Requesting support and further information

If you would like to request support for a child from the Occupational Therapy Service, please complete this form

Education staff can contact the School Advice Line: 0300 421 6976 on Tuesdays 1.30pm-4pm (term time only).

Grants, returning equipment and other queries

Returning equipment

For details on how to return disability equipment, please contact: Gloucestershire Equipment Service (GIS)

Disabled facilities grants

Disabled Facilities Grants may be available from the local district council by which major adaptations to the home environment can be funded, for children with long term substantial disabilities who meet the eligibility criteria. The Occupational Therapist makes recommendations based on the impact of the child’s environment on their functional ability to manage their activities of daily living, and where possible to maximise their independence. The Occupational Therapist may make a referral based on these recommendations to the local district council for consideration for a DFG. For advice on eligibility for Disabled Facilities Grants towards the cost of adapting a home for someone with a disability please see

Assessment, recommendations and letter requests

We are not able to make assessments of medical needs or recommendations to the Housing Authority in relation to this and would suggest families seek advice from their Doctor about housing issues that may affect their child’s health (for example, central heating to help with a child’s asthma or a shower to help with a skin condition).

Requests for general letters to support a family in applying for re-housing and charitable fundraising do not need to be referred to the OT service. Any professional that knows a child or young person or family well, such as the family doctor, social worker or lead professional, can write a letter to support a family’s request for re-housing or support the benefits of purchasing play equipment.

Hospital discharge

If your child, due to an acute episode of illness or injury, requires therapy to facilitate discharge from hospital to their community, please contact an occupational therapist using the Hospital Discharge telephone line: 07817 824555.

Learning disability and autism queries

For queries relating to children and young people up to the age of 18 who have functional difficulties as a result of a learning disability or Autistic Spectrum Disorder, please phone the ASD/LD Advice Line to contact a specialist occupational therapist on: 0300 421 6591, Monday to Friday, 12.30-3.30pm.

Where you may be seen

We work across the county and will ensure we meet with you in the most appropriate setting for the child’s assessment, intervention and ongoing support. This may be at a clinic, hospital, health centre, children’s centre, play group, family centre, nursery, mainstream primary or secondary school, special school, non- LEA school or at home.

Many children and young people will be seen in clinics at our main sites – see details below:

Cheltenham, Cotswolds and Tewkesbury

  • Independent Living Centre, Cheltenham, GL51 0BY
  • The Bungalow, Cirencester Hospital, GL7 1UY
    0300 421 6920*

North Gloucester and Forest of Dean

  • Quedgeley Clinic, St James’, Gloucester, GL2 4WD
    0300 421 6988
  • The Lodge, The Dilke Hospital, Cinderford, GL14 3HX
    0300 421 8570*

    South Gloucester and Stroud

    • Quedgeley Clinic, St James’, Gloucester, GL2 4WD
      0300 421 6988*
    • Children’s Occupational Therapy Team (opposite Stroud Maternity Hospital), Field Road, GL5 2HY
      0300 421 6930*
    • The Vale Community Hospital, Littlecombe Business Park, Dursley, Gl11 4BA

    *Please note that the above telephone lines are not manned daily. If your enquiry is urgent, please call the main number: 0300 421 6988

    Contact details


    0300 421 6988

    (8.30am to 4.30pm, Monday to Friday,
    excluding Bank Holidays)


    Springbank Community Resource Centre, Cheltenham, GL51 0LG

    Locations for this service