Occupational Therapy Practice Guidelines for Early Childhood: Birth Through 5 Years

Currently in the United States, 20% of children ages 6 years or younger live in poverty. Poor children have fewer opportunities than their peers to resources that are important for child development. At the same time, the prevalence of developmental disabilities has increased to 1 in every 6 children. Early identification of developmental delays is critical, and more than half of all American parents do not know the warning signs. Occupational therapy professionals in early intervention and preschool practice can provide the necessary services to support children's health in early childhood. This Practice Guideline explains the occupational therapy process for young children--and their families, caregivers, and teachers--which includes evaluation, intervention, and outcomes planning to enhance a child's occupational performance, adaptation, health and wellness, community participation, role competence, and self-advocacy. Topics include social-emotional development; feeding, eating, and swallowing; cognitive and motor development; service delivery; autism; obesity, cerebral palsy; and parent training.This work can help occupational therapy practitioners, as well as those who manage, reimburse, or set policy regarding occupational therapy services, understand the contribution of occupational therapy in evaluating and serving young children. This guideline can also serve as a resource for parents, school administrators, educators, and other early childhood staff.