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ALHT106 Psychology for Allied Health AND OTHY101 Health and Occupation

Unit rationale, description and aim

Knowledge of infant and child development is essential to informing an occupational therapist’s understanding of children’s occupational performance and participation when working within child and family contexts. Occupational therapists require skills in observation and standardised assessment practices to identify typical development and recognise developmental concerns. Learning in this unit builds upon knowledge of psychological constructs that underpin human behaviour and development.

In this unit, students will focus on infant and child development. Childhood occupations and co-occupations will be explored, and students will study key developmental domains including motor skills, hand skills, cognition, senses and perception, play and social skills, and emotional and behavioural regulation. Students will interact with and observe children, analyse and interpret observations of occupational performance, and use developmental checklists and screening tools to assess development in relation to childhood occupations. The role of standardised assessment will be introduced, and students will develop skills in administration, scoring and interpretation of developmental assessments. Students will observe a child/children and use person, environment and occupation factors as a framework to report observations that also reflect infant and child development and occupational performance and participation.

The overall aim of this unit is for students to understand the occupational performance and participation of children from the perspective of the child’s individual skills, environmental influences and their occupations. Skills in assessment will also be developed.  

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Describe and explain the typical development of infants and children using theories and knowledge of developmental milestones. (GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9)

LO2 - Explain and reflect on the typical development of infants/children from observations and standardised assessment. (GA5, GA7)

LO3 - Critically analyse and report children’s occupational performance and participation, including the impact of person, occupation and environmental factors. (GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9)

Graduate attributes

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 

Australian occupational therapy competency standards (AOTCS) 2018

Australian occupational therapy competency standards (AOTCS) 2018 developed within this unit are:

Standard/Attributes/CriteriaLearning Outcomes

Standard 1 - Professionalism

An occupational therapist practises in an ethical, safe, lawful and accountable manner, supporting client health and wellbeing through occupation and consideration of the person and their environment

An occupational therapist:

1.1 complies with the Occupational Therapy Board of Australia’s standards, guidelines and Code of conduct

1.3 maintains professional boundaries in all client and professional relationships

1.8 adheres to all work health and safety, and quality requirements for practice

1.13 manages resources, time and workload accountably and effectively


Standard 2 - Knowledge and learning

An occupational therapist’s knowledge, skills and behaviours in practice are informed by relevant and contemporary theory, practice knowledge and evidence, and are maintained and developed by ongoing professional development and learning.

An occupational therapist: 

2.1. applies current and evidence-informed knowledge of occupational therapy and other appropriate and relevant theory in practice

2.2. applies theory and frameworks of occupation to professional practice and decision-making

2.8 reflects on practice to inform current and future reasoning and decision-making and the integration of theory and evidence into practice

LO1, LO2, LO3

Standard 3 - Occupational therapy process and practice

An occupational therapist’s practice acknowledges the relationship between health, wellbeing and human occupation, and their practice is client-centred for individuals, groups, communities and populations.

An occupational therapist:

3.1 addresses occupational performance and participation of clients, identifying the enablers and barriers to engagement

3.2 performs appropriate information gathering and assessment when identifying a client's status and functioning, strengths, occupational performance and goals

LO2, LO3

Standard 4 - Communication

Occupational therapists practise with open, responsive and appropriate communication to maximise the occupational performance and engagement of clients and relevant others.

An occupational therapist:

4.2. adapts written, verbal and non-verbal communication appropriate to the client and practice context

4.7 uses effective communication skills to initiate and end relationships with clients and relevant others



Topics will include:

Introduction to development of the nervous system

  • Brain and spinal cord
  • Neuroplasticity

Theories of development

  • Biological influences on development
  • Environmental influences on development
  • The family and cultural context of children
  • Developmental milestones, stages and variation

Performance and participation in childhood occupations and co-occupations

Developmental domains

  • Gross motor development
  • Fine motor development and hand skills
  • Sensation and perception
  • Cognition and learning
  • Social development and social behavior
  • Play skills
  • Emotional and behavioural regulation
  • Attachment behavior and relationships
  • Temperament
  • Communication and language


  • Developmental checklists and assessments
  • Purpose and types of developmental assessment
  • Standardised assessment
  • Normative and criterion referenced assessment
  • Administration, scoring and interpretation of developmental assessments
  • Observation skills

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit includes a combination of approaches such as lectures, tutorials, practicals, interactive and independent learning. Lectures are used to provide core content and begin the process of exploring it, while tutorials are used to follow-up with more detailed explanation and exploration. Students are expected to take responsibility for their learning, including self-directed learning and reading/viewing material, as well as participate actively within group activities.

Assessment strategy and rationale

Assessments in this unit are designed to assess student knowledge, understanding, application and analysis of infant and child development, occupational performance and participation. Assessment strategies within this unit have been designed to develop theoretical and practical knowledge and skills, and the ability to work both autonomously and collaboratively with peers.

Assessment 1 is an early evaluation to provide students with feedback on their learning progression. This individual assessment will require students to describe observations of a typically developing infant from a video recording. In-class practice will support this learning and feedback will be designed to assist students with both Assessment 2 and 3. 

Assessment 2 is a written child observation report that is completed in pairs and focuses on typical development. It requires students to organise and undertake an observation session, record observations, interpret and critically analyse information by comparing the observed child to the developmental literature. Observations of person/child, environment and occupations are to be reported and interpreted in the written report. Students will use their knowledge of typical development, developmental assessment and childhood occupational performance and participation. Students are also required to individually write a short, structured reflection on the play session and their interaction with the child.

Assessment 3 is an oral examination. The oral examination format prepares students for the verbal reporting and communicating that is necessary to develop graduate competency to practice in the field of occupational therapy.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment 1: Written observations.      

Students will describe observations from an online video recordings to assess their knowledge of typical infant development. 


LO1, LO2

GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9

Assessment 2: Child Observation Report & Reflection of a play session.                                  

In pairs, students will complete a written report to describe and interpret the occupational performance and participation of a typically developing child. The report will include comparison of the child’s performance with developmental literature, interpretation of factors influencing performance and participation, and reflections of the play session.


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA4, GA5, GA7, GA9

Assessment 3: Oral Examination

An oral examination will enable students to apply knowledge covered in the unit.


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9

Representative texts and references

Cech, D. J., & Martin, S. (2012). Functional movement development across the lifespan (3rd ed.). Elsevier.

Cronin, A., & Mandich, M. (2016). Human development & performance throughout the lifespan (2nd ed.). Cengage Learning.

Laver-Fawcett, A. J., & Cox, D. L. (2021). Principles of assessment and outcome measurement for allied health professionals: Practice, research and development. John Wiley & Sons.

O’Brien, J., & Kuhaneck, H. (2020). Case-Smith’s occupational therapy for children and adolescents (8th ed.). Mosby Elsevier.

Sharma, A. & Cockerill, H. & Sanctuary, L. (2022). Mary Sheridan's from birth to five years: Children's developmental progress (5th ed.). Taylor and Francis

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