Children’s Occupational Therapist – Derby, Derbyshire and surrounding areas.

What is Paediatric Occupational Therapy?

A Paediatric or Children’s Occupational Therapist assesses the child’s ability to engage in everyday activities of daily living appropriate to their age. Therapy is usually fun and play based to help the child reach their maximum potential.

What is Sensory integration Therapy?

Ayres’ Sensory Integration Therapy is a term used to describe an intervention that was developed by Dr Jean Ayres, an occupational therapist.  Sensory Integration is the way sensory information is processed and organised by the brain in order to enable us to carry out every day activities. This requires our brain to  organise and make sense of sensory information that we receive from our senses to enable us to make sense of the world around us and also to help us know what is going on with our own body.

Our senses include five familiar senses: touch, smell,vision, hearing and taste. However they also include three less familiar senses:

  • The vestibular sense – concerned with awareness of head and body position in relation to gravity and whether we are upside down or upright and where we are in relation to space.
  • The proprioceptive sense – concerned with where the trunk and limbs are in space and grading how much force we use. So we can co-ordinate movements and grade force without looking at what our  body is doing.
  • The interoceptive sense – concerned with what is going on inside our body. Whether we feel  hungry, full, hot, cold or thirsty.

Sensory Integration Therapy can help children who experience sensory processing difficulties to function better and so be able to carry out every day activities of daily living that are important to them.

Therapists who provide Sensory Integration Therapy need to have had specific post graduate training, in order to provide this intervention. Frances is an Advanced Practitioner in Sensory Integration Therapy.

What Is Sensory Attachment Interventions (SAI)?

SAI was developed by Eadoin Bhreathnach an Occupational Therapist and Attachment Counsellor (Northern Ireland). The approach involves both parent and child. SAI is a reciprocal and mutually regulating process. Focus is on providing therapeutic spaces and sensory input that is regulating to help self-regulation of the child and co-regulation of  the parent and child, so assisting in improving the attachment of parent and child.

There can be  a number of reasons why there may be difficulties with attachment and the relationship between parent and child,  for example trauma in utero, early birth trauma, postnatal depression or children who have suffered abuse or neglect.

Negative experiences in the womb and in early childhood impact on the child’s capacity to cope with stress throughout life. There is a tendency to use strategies such as fight and flight or freeze and dissociation, or the child may  fluctuate between these two stress states in order to survive.

These survival strategies can persist and reoccur even when there is a minor stressful event (Bhreathnach). Children, who have experienced trauma either in utero or in early childhood, tend to maintain a state of hyper-vigilance. This can then affect their ability to process sensory information, as the sensory systems have become sensitised to danger (Bhreathnach).

Sensory attachment interventions helps the parent and child to be better regulated and to co-regulate each other.  Therapeutic spaces and  sensory interventions can help the child to feel safe. SAI considers sensory processing from a trauma perspective.

Training and advice can  be provided for schools to enable the school to be trauma informed and to consider  issues affecting children who have experienced trauma, such as sensory processing  difficulties, reduced attention span, reduced developmental milestones, difficulties with communication, memory and executive functioning issues, emotional regulation difficulties and challenging behaviours.

Having a greater awareness of these issues helps ensure that trauma is not replicated within the school environment and usually results in a reduction in  challenging behaviours and an improvement in academic learning results.


 Occupational Therapy Provision

Hope Child Therapy provides assessment and interventions for children and young adults aged 0-25 years specialising in regulation difficulties, sensory processing difficulties, trauma and attachment, emotional and behavioural difficulties and autism.

  • Services are tailored to fit individual needs.
  • Bespoke training is available.
  • Mentoring or supervision for therapists can be provided.
  • Consultancy services for schools and residential care facilities.

Assessment & Treatment


An individual  assessment for a child usually takes one or two sessions and will take place where ever is most appropriate and convenient for the child and those caring for them. For example in the school, home or clinic environment.

The assessment is child friendly. Structured clinical observations are also carried out. The child is likely to perceive the clinical observations to be games as they are carried out in a child friendly way.  Standardised assessments (tests carried out in a standard way) may also be used if appropriate. For some children who are highly anxious or who exhibit challenging behaviour standardised assessments may not be appropriate.

The assessment is child focussed. This means the child’s needs are considered. In order to support the child the needs and opinions of those caring for them are also considered. The therapist works collaboratively with parents/carers, health, social care and educational professionals in order to achieve the best results for the child.

Treatment may be provided in addition to an assessment. Treatment may be provided in the home, school or clinic setting. Sessions are designed so that they are fun and should be an enjoyable experience. The aim will be to build relationships and develop skills. A variety of approaches to treatment  may be used such as Ayres’ Sensory Integration, Sensory Attachment Interventions, The Model of Human Occupation, Theraplay and other approaches  depending on individual needs.

To find out more about us, please visit our about page and to contact us, please click here.


Referrals can be received from:

Parents or carers.

Local Education Authorities.

Local Social Care Services.

Local Health Authorities.

Foster and Adoption Agencies.


Residential care facilities.


If you are looking for a children’s occupational therapist Hope Child Therapy Ltd is easily accessible to Derby, Nottingham, Ashbourne, Chesterfield, Matlock, Sheffield, Birmingham, Burton-On-Trent, Leicester and other surrounding areas. We are able to travel to home and school but also have clinic space in Matlock.

Email: frances.critchleyot@gmail.com