How Occupational Therapy can be used in Art for Children

Occupational Therapy (OT) has been used widely in helping children with ADHD, learning disabilities and others that hinder the capabilities of people to perform occupations. Compared with Art Therapy, Occupational therapy tends to focus more on the physical abilities rather than the emotional abilities. Deeply rooted to arts and crafts through the history of OT, the use of art in Occupational Therapy has variety benefits and has been proved in practices. However, many disadvantaged children have limited access to OT and therefore are limited to their learning capabilities. Combining Occupational Therapy in Art Classes will help them to enhance control, building self sense, expressing one’s self, transforming the illness experience, gaining a sense of purpose, and building social support. Here are several ways how art can be used in Occupational Therapy:

1.  A multi step art project with graphics can help ADHD gain self-confidence and avoid overload. Many times children with ADHD tend to break down in front of a big task which seemly impossible. An art project with multiple easy steps, such as origami or painting a duck, will help them ease the process and gain confidence along the way and not worry too much about not being wrong about somethings. With clear instructions and graphics it will give children a lot of confidence in the process.

2. Using music and mindfulness to control the brain and calm them down. Many children have impulsive behaviors and raising anxiety levels. By listening to relax music and doing some meditation it will help children release stress and be in charge of their own brains and bodies.

3. Arts and Crafts projects that helps children with motor abilities and hand-eye coordinations. Simply holding a color pencil or using a paint brush in art help tremendously with children’s motor abilities. It can even be combined with some science projects for older children, such as some steam projects, to further improve creativity, motor functions and be more curious about the world they live in.

4. Using different colors and visual cues helps self-expression and focus. The ADHD brain can be overstimulated in traditional black and white: using different colors and helps student focus and ease the learning process, it also serve as means of self-expression.

More importantly, art is fun for children and both teachers and students can benefit from a good learning environment. Art is vital in a child’s development and when combined with techniques from Occupational Therapy it can serve a greater purpose and a larger audiences. Many parents and families will benefit from combining art with OT.

To learn more about at home OT techniques for children:


Levine, R. E. (1987). The influence of the arts-and-crafts movement on the professional status of occupational therapy. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 41(4), 248-254.

TeBeest, R., Kornstedt, K., Feldmann, C., & Harmasch, L. (2002). The use of expressive arts in various occupational therapy settings. Occupational Therapy Program.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *