Occupational Therapy at the Seabrook McKenzie Centre


The Seabrook McKenzie Centre is a charitable trust specialising in Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD) offering psycho-educational assessments and specialist tuition. As many children with SLD also have motor coordination and sensory difficulties, the centre has an occupational therapist to provide them with additional specialist assessment and intervention when required.

This service is also open to any child that experiences difficulty in motor and sensory skills.

What is Occupational Therapy?

An Occupational Therapist (OT) is skilled in using a person’s occupations and interests as a means for therapy. Play is a child’s primary occupation, so we use this to frame and motivate the child toward sensory-motor goals.

At the Seabrook McKenzie Centre, occupational therapy involves working with children who present primarily with motor planning, coordination, and sensory difficulties, often apparent during the performance of everyday skills like handwriting, dressing, ball skills, and sequencing activities. Social interaction, following daily routines, managing changes, and regulating behaviour are also frequently reported as challenging, affecting the child’s ability to engage in preschool or school.

At the Seabrook McKenzie Centre much of the therapy is clinic based; however, home, school, and community based concerns are addressed as part of the overall assessment and intervention process.

What does the assessment process involve?

The OT uses both standardised and non-standardised assessments. These may include The Movement ABC (testing balance, catching & throwing, manual dexterity), the test of Visual Motor Integration, the Sensory Profile, Developmental Observation, and the gathering of information from both the child’s parents and teacher.

The assessment provides a baseline for therapy, recommendations for the school context, and a basis for home programme activities.

What happens after the assessment?

A comprehensive report is sent 3-4 weeks following the assessment. This will include the results and observations of the assessment and recommendations for any further assessment that may be appropriate. Recommended follow-up in terms of intervention as well as suggestions for home and school will also be given.


Ongoing therapy varies according to the individual child and family. Some children attend clinic therapy sessions for long term periods, for others, a smaller block of sessions is sufficient. For others, especially those living out of town, home programmes can be provided. The therapy is tailored to the individual child and works off the basis of the occupational therapy assessment.

1:1 clinic sessions

Therapy may include working on foundation skills such as balance, bilateral coordination, motor planning and sequencing, as well as fine-motor coordination, following a sensory integrative based approach. Therapy may also include working on functional skills as appropriate to the child’s needs, such as tying shoelaces, catching, skipping and handwriting.


Developmental Dyspraxia or Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) affects a person’s ability to plan and complete fine and/or gross motor movement.

For each skill or task we do there is a three step process that happens in our brain. You have to first have an idea or understand what you need to achieve, then to think of or have a pre-prepared plan, and then lastly execute this plan. For a person with dyspraxia there may be challenges at any or all points along this process.

Because of this, dyspraxia presents differently in different people depending on where in this process is affected and to what degree.  A child with dyspraxia can have challenges with any of the following:

  • Hopping, jumping, and running
  • Throwing, catching, or kicking a ball
  • Walking up and down stairs
  • Writing, drawing, and using scissors – their handwriting and drawings may appear below their age
  • Getting dressed, doing up buttons, and tying shoelaces
  • Keeping still
  • Concentration
  • Organising themselves
  • Picking up new skills
  • Making friends
  • Self-esteem
  • Over or under sensitive to sensory stimuli

A child with dyspraxia can appear clumsy, bump into objects, drop things, and fall over more often than expected. They can also appear to have behavioural difficulties. This can stem from their frustration with their symptoms. Developmental dyspraxia can be associated with other diagnoses such other specific learning difficulties, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).