What is Occupational Therapy?

By AASLNovember 2, 2021

Every day, you partake in activities that create a healthy and balanced lifestyle. These tasks can be things like washing your hair, brushing your teeth, or cleaning your home. These tasks are defined as “occupations”. For a child with special needs or delayed development, these tasks can become particularly difficult.  Occupational therapy works to develop and nurture the skills needed for these occupations.

Occupations will change through the entire duration of an individual’s life. In the earliest stages of life, occupations progress from primitive roles of feeding and sleeping in infancy, to higher level skills such as potty training, learning to share and manipulate toys in toddlerhood. As a child ages to elementary school, occupations evolve to nurture the skills for independence and academic success. These continue to progress through the teenage years as preparations are made to transition from high school to adulthood.

Occupational therapy supports children and families through this journey as challenges arise, in order to overcome barriers and promote living life to the fullest. An incredible aspect of OT is that each treatment plan is designed specifically to address a child and family’s individual needs. From learning to take care of their pet cat to managing their reactions to friends in school, the child is able to face their own personal difficulties head on with the help of their OT. Weekly treatment plans are based on which occupations are presenting difficulties and which are priorities for therapy.

Who are Occupational Therapists?

Occupational therapists are skilled healthcare professionals who combine evidence-based practice with client-centered approaches to help children succeed in their daily activities or “occupations”. An OT provides comprehensive evaluations to assess a child’s ability to successfully participate in tasks at an age-appropriate level. These evaluations take into account the psychological, social-emotional, sensory, cognitive, and physical factors of the child and their environment.

With their specific sets of skills, an OT is able to figure out why a child is having a particular difficulty and then work to modify both the task and environment to promote the utmost success possible for the child. The therapist and child will work on tools and strategies to ensure their progress they have made in their sessions is being translated to progress at home.  Working hand and hand with the families and caregivers of the child is a major aspect of an OT’s role. OTs are also able to work with children who are “typically” developing and just in need of some added support.

Who and How We Help!

Occupational therapy supports mental and physical health of a child to increase successful execution of our goals. OTs are able to help children both with and without disabilities as they navigate through difficulties in the areas outlined below:

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