An Occupational Perspective on the Assessment of Social Competence in Children

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Maintaining relationships and interacting socially are essential aspects of the occupational performance of childhood and adolescence. Social participation occurs during many childhood occupations, such as play and school work. Occupational therapists assess and treat children with difficulties in social participation. Rather than assessing a child's social skills deficits in isolation, the use of occupation-based theoretical models guides clinicians to consider the individual in his or her environments and during occupations. Familiarity with existing models of social competence and available assessment tools provides occupational therapists with the basis for a comprehensive assessment of children.

This paper presents an occupational therapy model (the Model of Human Occupation), models of social competence from cognate fields and a range of assessment tools in order to guide occupational therapists in assessing and treating children with social participation difficulties in a more occupation-centred manner. The paper also presents a rationale for the use of multiple methods for a comprehensive assessment of a child's social competence.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2008

More about this publication?
  • The British Journal of Occupational Therapy (BJOT) is the official journal of the College of Occupational Therapists. Its purpose is to publish articles relevant to theory, practice, research, education and management in occupational therapy internationally.

    BJOT publishes research articles, critical reviews, practice analyses, opinion pieces, editorials, letters to the editor, book reviews and an annual index. Please refer to the author's guide at

    Submissions can be made at

    The 2013 Impact Factor for The British Journal of Occupational Therapy is 0.897.

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