blue and white graphic design with text overlay what is a pediatric occupational therapy assistant

What is a Pediatric Occupational Therapy Assistant?

Staff Writer
Mar 29, 2022

Occupational therapy helps bring routine and a sense of normalcy back to many hurting people, and a pediatric occupational therapy assistant has a special place working with children. If you’re passionate about helping people ease back into their daily routines, cope with their health conditions, and you enjoy working with kids, you may be a fit for the pediatric specialty of occupational therapy assistance.

What Do Pediatric OTAs Do?

Occupational therapy assistants help people who have physical, sensory, or cognitive disabilities. OTAs help clients learn the everyday skills they need in order to live and enjoy life as independently as possible, like getting dressed or brushing teeth. OTA care happens in the home, community clinics, rehab facilities, schools, or physicians’ offices.

Occupational therapists identify issues and create a care plan for a patient’s needs, and OTAs execute that plan. Therapy may include helping patients with therapeutic activities like stretches and other exercises, leading activities that promote coordination and socialization, encouraging completion of activities and tasks, and administrative duties.

Pediatric OTAs do the same thing for children. Kids who may have physical or cognitive needs, or who may be recovering from an injury would qualify to work with a pediatric OTA. An OTA helps while a child is recovering from injury or illness at home and in the classroom. A friendly smile and playful approach go a long way toward comforting a scared child who may be in pain, and perhaps self-conscious about not being as independent as they want.

What is the Job Outlook for Pediatric OTAs?

There aren’t many career paths that offer above-average wages in an industry growing six times faster than the national average. When you’re a pediatric occupational therapy assistant, you’re in a field that’s always hiring — and it requires only five semesters of school to sit for the NBCOT and qualify for licensing. The median annual wage for an OTA is $54,250 per year, and the field is expected to grow by 34 percent over the next decade.

How is an OTA Different Than an OT?

An OTA supports an occupational therapist in the following ways:

  • Preparing treatment areas
  • Setting up therapy equipment
  • Transporting patients
  • Cleaning treatment areas and equipment
  • Helping patients with billing and insurance forms
  • Performing clerical tasks, including scheduling appointments and answering telephones

As an OTA you will work with an occupational therapist to:

  • Provided individualized treatment sessions following the plan of care (set by the OT)
  • Provide feedback to the OT on client’s response to treatment
  • Provide feedback to the OT on client’s progress towards goals (set by the OT and client)
  • Complete documentation and billing for services provided in treatment sessions
What are Common Conditions That Require a Pediatric OTA?

Everyone has a job, and a child’s job is to play, learn, and socialize. When kids struggle with these tasks, a pediatric occupational therapist and their assistant work with the child and their family to help them succeed in daily activities.

Kids who need an OTA may have congenital issues, such as cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, autism, or mental or emotional health problems. These young patients may also be dealing with injury from a traumatic event, such as a missing limb or amputation, head injuries, severe burns, or spinal cord trauma.

Pediatric occupational therapy assistants have an opportunity to make a positive difference in young lives who could use a helping hand and a smile. If you’re considering a new career in healthcare, you love kids, and you don’t want to spend years in school, consider becoming a pediatric OTA.


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