Enquiries: 01305 251150

Children's Therapy Services

Updated 27 February 2024

Each child and young person’s development is individual and unique, although for many it also follows a typical pattern.

Other children will have specific problems with their development and some of these may need specialist assessment and advice from a children’s occupational therapist or physiotherapist. 

Children’s Therapy is largely a community-based service providing direct therapy, advice and/or training. 

Therapy may also be provided through programmes taught by therapists but undertaken by appropriate personnel (e.g. school staff). 

Children and infants are also seen as inpatients on Kingfisher Ward and the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) at Dorset County Hospital.

Children’s Therapy provides occupational therapy and physiotherapy for children from birth to school leaving age within the local authority areas of Weymouth and Portland, West Dorset, North Dorset and Purbeck. The team does not provide advice regarding housing and major adaptations. This service is provided by Dorset Council.

The Children's Therapy Service consists of paediatric occupational therapists, physiotherapists and dietitians who are all registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). Other staff include therapy assistants and an admin team.


  • to encourage the development of children to reach their full potential
  • to offer an assessment of need and treatment based on the child and family needs
  • to provide timely high quality care at locations appropriate to child's needs
  • to work with other key professionals involved in the child's care​.

​Information for families

Your first appointment
Depending upon the reason for your referral to Children’s Therapy your first appointment could take up to an hour. If you are seeing a physiotherapist please bring a pair of shorts.​

Do I need to attend with my child?
Yes, it is important that someone with parental responsibility accompanies your child. This helps us assess your child’s needs and provides us with valuable information about any difficulties your child may be experiencing.  We also need signed parental consent before we can assess/treat your child.

What if my child is unable to attend an appointment?
Please telephone us as soon as possible on 01305 254744 to inform us.

Demand for the service is high and it is important that we are able to offer the appointment to another child if you are unable to attend. Failure to inform us may result in your child being discharged from Children’s Therapy.

Paediatric Occupational Therapy (OT)

Occupational Therapy enables people to participate in daily life to improve their health and well-being. Daily life is made up of many activities (occupations).

Occupations for children and young people include self-care (getting ready to go out, eating, using the toilet), being productive (going to nursery or school, or helping with jobs), and leisure (playing with friends or doing hobbies).

Click here for further information.​

Paediatric Physiotherapy (PT)

Physiotherapists help children and young people affected by injury, illness or disability through movement, exercises, manual therapy, education and advice.

Within this service, there are a number of different specialities including musculo-skeletal, neuro developmental and inpatient support.


The Dietitians assess for children's food intolerances, obesity, faltering growth, fussy eaters and problems around eating. They provide goals and intervention surrounding the highlighted concerns. The British Dietitians Association supports the science and practice of dietitians in the UK.​

Living with sensory processing difficulties

We have put together a series of presentations to help parents with children with sensory processing difficulties. Please click on the links below.

The presentations aim to: 

  • describe what sensory processing is
  • explore all of our eight senses; what they are and their roles
  • discuss what difficulties can occur
  • discuss what we might see – for example, the behaviours
  • explore what you can do at home – practical strategies
  • offer resources
  • provide information about sensory self-care.

What is sensory processing?
When difficulties in sensory processing occur
What we might see when difficulties in sensory processing occur
Strategies to try at home for your school-aged child
Strategies to try at home for your younger child
Sensory strategies for the older child and adolescents
Understanding internal body sensations
Sensory self-care for everyone - using sensations to help us feel ‘just right


Who can refer?
The Children's Therapy Service accepts referrals from:

  • Paediatricians
  • GPs
  • Health visitors and other healthcare professionals
  • Teachers (if a child has been through the 'Learn to Move, Move to Learn' programme in school

Referral forms
Other professionals

A range of questionnaires are sent out to parents/carers and school staff prior to assessment.

Parent questionnaire
Pre-school questionnaire
Under 11 questionnaire
Over 11 questionnaire

ASD sensory rating scale

Please note: Movement ABC-2 checklists are available from: www.pearsonclinical.co.uk​

Consent forms
Consent forms need to be completed prior to first meeting with you and your child to ensure you are happy for us to gather information and link with other professionals as part of the assessment process.

Consent form
Email consent form

Please send referrals to:
Children's Therapy Department
Children's Centre
Damers Road

Tel: 01305 254744
Fax: 01305 254737

Useful links

General parent information
The Xchange

NHS conditions

Dorset wheelchair services

Diverse Abilities: Dorset disability charity supporting children and adults with profound physical and learning disabilities

SEND Services: information about services for children (and their families) with special educational needs

Family Partnership Zones: providing support for families in their local area

Dorset For You: listing services available for children with special needs

Motor development
Motor development birth to 15 months

Early motor delays at 2 months

Early motor delays at 4 months

Early motor delays at 6 months

Tummy time

Lying to sitting - ACPC handout

Hypermobility - ACPC handout


Pathways developmental videos

Baby developmental videos BBC

Developmental Co-ordination Disorder (DCD)
What is DCD - CanChild handout

Dyspraxia NHS

Dyspraxia explained leaflet

Understanding Dyspraxia (DCD) - video 


National Autistic Society

Autism Education Trust

Chronic fatigue
Children and Young People's Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encepholomyelitis (CFS/ME) Service

Bike skills
Sustrans video teaching bike riding

Supporting your child to ride your bike

Contact details

Children's Therapy Department
Children's Centre
Damers Road

Tel: 01305 254744​ (Monday to Friday, 9am to 4.30pm)

Email: abigail.short@dchft.nhs.uk

Please note, the general number for the Children's Centre main reception is 01305 254739.

Direct line