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Learning new skills

Learning can be exciting!

This might be for your child to learn how to build balance and strength, to process touch, light and sound, to develop social skills or other skills or to enjoy school.

You may want to improve your communication or social skills, study a course or do one more thing for yourself. There are many new skills that you may wish to try out.

For children

Crawling, sitting and walking - building balance and strength

Your child may need support in learning to crawl, sit or walk. A physiotherapist or an exercise physiologist can assess your child's development in terms of strength and movement in relation to their age. If needed, the physiotherapist or an exercise physiologist will prescribe exercises to build strength, balance and coordination. An occupational therapist can also help your child build skills in crawling, sitting and walking.

Adapting to noise, light and touch - sensory processing

If your child overreacts or underreacts to their immediate surroundings and to people around them, an occupational therapist who specifically works with children may help with your child's sensory processing. This method uses activities to encourage your child to understand how their body can adapt to noises, lights and touch that are around them.

Social skills

Learning social skills

Your child can get support from an occupational therapist or a psychologist to relate well to other children and to adults, to cooperate during games, to take turns and to solve problems. The OT will use games and other techniques to develop your child's social skills.

A speech pathologist can support your child to increase their social communication skills, for example, listening to others, starting conversations, taking turns, understanding and using body language and using the right volume.

Psychologists also work with parents, other carers and teachers so that they can support the development of your child's social skills in the home or school environment.

Other skills

Your child may need support with other skills such as eating and drinking  and communication. A speech pathologist can provide support and assistance.

If you have concerns about your child's behaviour, for example, if they are using negative behaviours such as hitting or biting, a psychologist can work with your child to develop positive behavioral skills.

A speech pathologist can identify if communication issues are impacting on your child's behaviour (for example, hitting out in frustration when they do not have the words) and give you and your child strategies to use appropriate communication.


The education system should assist your child with therapy support services.

You might want to discuss your child's schooling with a psychologist. A psychologist can look at your child's learning strengths and areas of difficulty. They will work with you and your child's teachers to design the best learning environment for your child and can teach strategies to maximise their concentration and learning capacity. They may also recommend supports required in the classroom to promote learning.

Some therapists are either based in schools or can visit schools. For example, if your child has concerns about bullying or other emotional issues, a social worker may be able to mediate between the parties concerned.

A speech pathologist can provide support at mealtimes with eating and drinking and communication.

For adults

Communication and social skills

You may want to build your confidence in interacting and communicating with others. A psychologist can work with you to reduce anxiety and to understand social situations such as joining conversations and making friends.

A speech pathologist can work with you to develop your communication skills, including reading, writing, communicating using speech and other methods, and your social skills so you can achieve your learning goals.

Studying a course

If you are interested in doing some study, a psychologist can look at your learning needs and identify your specific strengths. This is likely to increase the chances that you will be successful in the course that you select. A psychologist can also work with you and your carer or teachers to recommend study strategies.

Young lady studyingYou might want to study a short course or do a full university degree. To prepare for that, an occupational therapist can find strategies so that you can be part of the whole learning experience. This can be working with you to set up a computer system to meet your needs. An occupational therapist can also look at your attention and concentration levels and support you in ways to develop your problem-solving abilities.

If the buildings you need to use at the college or university are difficult to access, the occupational therapist can provide you with equipment, advise you on techniques to access the building or on making modifications to the building.


If you are finding it increasingly difficult to remember things to manage daily tasks, a psychologist can support you with memory training and developing external memory aids.

Where to next?

If you are keen to do something totally different but are not sure what it is, an occupational therapist can discuss what best suits you based on your interests. The occupational therapist needs to know about your background, your present skills and abilities and your goals. This will help the occupational therapist to advise you on how to go about learning a new skill or getting a new hobby.