The Therapy Process

The Therapy Process

The process of therapy is fluid. That means that it is constantly changing and adapting to suit the needs of your child and to reflect the progress that your child makes along their therapy journey.

The therapy process includes the following elements that need to be revisited regularly; assessment, goal development, and the delivery of the therapy. Click on each part of the therapy wheel below to learn more about each element.

Play video

What to expect during the assessment process


Assessment (also called ‘evaluation’, ‘review’, or ‘follow up’) is an important part of the therapy process. It helps the therapist to measure your child’s skills and abilities, and highlights areas of difficulty.

The initial assessment happens before therapy begins. This gives the therapist a ‘baseline’ of your child’s skills and abilities, and helps to set individualised goals for your child based on their strengths and challenges.

Once therapy begins, the therapist will do follow-up assessment at different time points. This allows you to measure the progress that your child has made over time.

For example, before starting therapy, Michael completes an assessment with his speech pathologist. The assessment shows that he can label five objects by name. After two months of therapy, the speech pathologist assesses him again. This time, Michael can name 20 objects. By testing Michael’s skills over these two time points, the therapist can measure his progress.

There are many different types of assessment that measure different skills and abilities in a number of different areas. Your therapist might choose to conduct formal standardised assessments, informal non-standardised assessments, or a combination of both.

The PDF below gives more information about standardised and non-standardised assessments, and when each can be used.

Download PDF

Play video

Developing goals

Goal Setting

After the assessment process, the therapist will look at your child’s skills, abilities, and difficulties. Together with the information you told them about your child’s development, the therapist will develop some goals for therapy. Parents play an active role in this process.

Once the goals have been set for your child, your therapist may write these goals into a therapy plan or goal sheet. This is a useful tool to focus therapy, and it is a way to measure your child’s progress in different areas over time.

"If you just break it up with three little goals, work on them, get them perfect, then move onto the next three goals that helps." - Paula, Parent

The therapy plan or goal sheet can be written in a number of ways, and will look different from therapist to therapist. It doesn’t matter what it looks like; the most important thing is that it helps you to understand what skills your child is working on, and when the therapist will review your child’s progress.

Your child will do best if everyone in your child’s team receives a copy of the therapy plan or goal sheet so that everyone is on the same page.

Click on the button below to learn about SMART goals.


Play video

What to expect during the therapy process


Once the therapy goals have been set for your child, therapy sessions will begin.

It is important that you play an active role in your child's therapy, both during therapy sessions and when developing a goal plan for your child.  For more information on the important role parents play, see the section on Producing Best Outcomes.

"The parent is a really pivotal part of the team and it is important  to make sure that the parent feels like they are driving the bus, we will often give them the guidance and give them the road map but they really need to feel like they are in charge. They are the ones that know their child best, they are the ones that have the difficult times at home as well as celebrating the positive times and they are the ones that need to be equipped with the skills as their children develop." Stephanie Crawford, Speech Pathologist

The development of a therapy plan will happen after the assessment process, and the way that this happens will vary from therapist to therapist. Below are two examples of therapy plans from children we have seen in previous videos.

Therapy plans in action!

Ryan's therapy plan

Ryan is seven and a half years old and has been attending therapy since receiving a diagnosis at 20 months of age.

Click the button below to download an excerpt from Ryan's occupational therapy plan.

Ryan occupational therapy plan example

Play video

Ryan's journey

Play video

Occupational therapy session

Ryder's therapy plan

Ryder is almost 5, and was diagnosed with ASD at 15 months of age. Shortly after receiving a diagnosis, he commenced speech therapy.

Click the button below to download an excerpt from Ryder's speech therapy plan.

Ryder speech therapy plan example

Play video

Ryder's journey

Play video

Speech therapy session

Interactive timetable

To see how many opportunities you already have in your everyday schedule for using strategies learnt in therapy, drag and drop the tiles below into the timetable and watch the hours add up!!

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday


Total hours: 0

Anxiety is a state of worry or fear about a real or perceived threatening event or situation, which often impairs physical and psychological functioning.

Articulation is how one makes sounds in words.

Auditory processing is the ability to perceive, interpret and respond to sound (auditory) stimuli. For example; a child who experiences difficulty processing auditory stimuli may be respond negatively to noise that you would not typically expect to bother someone, such as a vacuum cleaner. Alternatively, a child may have a decreased awareness of auditory stimuli and may not respond when their name is called.

A baseline is a measurement taken at one point in time against which future scores will be compared to measure progress. For example, before speech therapy begins, a therapist might measure how many objects a child can name. They might then measure this again one month, two months and three months after therapy has started to see how much progress the child has made.

Body awareness is the ability to recognise different parts of your own body, and their relative position.

Cognition refers to the mental process of acquiring knowledge.

A child’s developmental age will indicate where a child is socially, emotionally, physically, and intellectually on their path of development, as compared to typical behaviors and characteristics of that age.

Early intervention means doing something, or intervening, as early as possible to work on your child’s development and support needs.

Explicit teaching involves setting aside a block of time to work on a specific skill or task.

Expressive language is how one expresses their needs, wants, thoughts, and feelings.

Fine motor skills refer to the use of small muscle of the hands and fingers that allow us to manipulate and control objects and materials. This includes tasks that involve grasping (for example using a crayon or pencil), manipulating objects (using scissors) or activities that require hand-eye coordination (like threading, writing, doing up buttons and zips).

Gross motor skills refer to the use of the large muscle groups of the body that enable us to maintain an upright posture and coordinate the two sides of the body. Gross motor skills allow us to run, skip, climb and jump.

Gustatory processing is the ability to perceive, interpret, and respond to taste (gustatory) information. For example; a child who has difficulty processing taste information may have a self-limited diet, alternatively, they may crave strong flavours excessively such as spicy or sour.

A joint therapy session is when there are two or more therapists working with your child at the same time. This is generally two therapists from different disciplines.

Key word sign is the use of manual signs and natural gesture to support communication.  Key word sign is used to encourage and support language development in children with communication difficulties.

A low registering child does not register sensations at a typical level and does not seek out sensory stimulation. For example, a child that does not register auditory input at a typical level, may not notice when their name is being called.

Motor planning is the ability of the brain to plan and organise an action before it is carried out.

A multidisciplinary team includes members from different healthcare professions with specialised skills and expertise. The members collaborate together to make treatment recommendations for your child.

Non-verbal communication refers to elements of communication such as gesture, facial expression, and body language.

Olfactory processing is the ability to perceive, interpret, and respond to smell (olfactory) information. For example; a child presenting with an olfactory processing issue may smell objects excessively, alternatively, they may be over sensitive to smell information and actively avoid it.

Opportunistic teaching is using everyday ‘opportunities’ or activities to teach and practice the skills outlined in your child’s therapy plan.

Percentile rank is another way of explaining where your child’s score sits in comparison to other children their age. For example, if your child receives a standard score of 85 which is at the 16th percentile, this means that your child’s score was better than or equal to the score of 16% of other children his or her age. Another way of looking at it is that if 100 children completed this test and you lined them up from the person with the lowest score to the person with the highest score, your child would be standing in position 16.

Pragmatic language refers to the social use of language and includes the ability to understand verbal (tone of voice) and non-verbal cues (eye gaze, body language, facial expression)  as well as the social rules of language (turn taking, staying on topic, showing interest in others’ conversation).

Proprioception is the ability to understand where your body is in space. The receptors for this system are located in the muscles and joints of the body. For example; a child who experiences difficulty with the processing of proprioceptive information may have a decreased perception of pain, or seek movement excessively and appear to always be ‘on the go’.

Receptive language is how well one understands language, this includes information that is given verbally or in written form.

Self-care skills can also be referred to as ‘independence skills’. This include skills such as dressing, toileting, bathing, eating, and sleeping.

A sensory avoiding child is one who actively avoids sensory stimuli. For example a child who is sensitive to tactile (touch) information may not be able to wear certain clothing types such as wool.

Sensory processing is the way in which the brain receives, organises and responds to sensory information for everyday use. It also includes our ability to plan our actions and movements.

A child who is a sensory seeker does not register sensations at a typical level so may seek out sensory stimulation with increased frequency and intensity. For example a child who does not register taste information at a typical level may seek out spicy, salty, or very sweet foods.

A sensory sensitive child is easily overwhelmed by small amounts of sensory input. For example: a child with a sensitivity to auditory input may notice sounds that others do not register.

Sequencing is the ability to follow a set of steps within a task.

Skill generalisation is the ability to take a skill learned in one environment and successfully transfer it to another. For example a child first learns to use the toilet at home and then is able to use the toilet at kindergarten.

Social skills enable us to interact with people within our world and understand social rules. For a child, this begins with skills such as turn-taking, saying hello, and waiting.

Spatial awareness is the ability to perceive the position of your body in space.

A standardised assessment is a tool that has been designed to determine a child’s developmental level when compared to other children of the same age. Standardised assessments give a clear score that can be used as a baseline for therapy.

Tactile processing is the ability to receive, interpret, and respond to touch (tactile) information. For example; a child who has difficulty processing tactile information may not tolerate the feel of certain fabrics on their skin. Alternatively, they may not notice touch in the way they would be expected to.

The team around your child is anyone who plays an important role in your child’s development. Starting with the parents/carers, this may also include; therapists, teacher, respite worker, siblings, grandparents etc. The ‘team’ will vary depending on the child’s needs.

Verbal communication refers to speaking, either with or without aids for support.

The vestibular system is located in the inner ear and is responsible for our balance, understanding of motion, and spatial awareness. For example; a child who experiences vestibular processing issues may become distressed when their feet leave the ground, alternatively, they may crave vestibular input and spin or rock excessively.

Visual perception is the ability to understand, interpret and remember what one sees and respond accordingly.

Visual processing is the ability to perceive, interpret, and respond to visual stimuli. For example; a child who has difficulty processing visual information may be easily distracted by visual stimuli within their environment or become focused on a certain part of an object such as watching the wheels of a toy truck spin.