“Occupational Therapy with children, really?” It is interesting to be in a profession, Occupational Therapy, where the majority of people around you don’t know what you do. Often we are asked with a quizzical look: “So Occupational Therapy; you work with people looking for a job?” Perhaps we have done ourselves a disservice by using the word occupation when today it is synonymous with job or profession. However, we have decided to define occupation a little less conventionally: anything meaningful to you that occupies your time. Dictionary.com adds “any activity in which a person is engaged.” In a child’s life this would include the family’s routines and culture. More specifically the main objectives of childhood are to grow, learn, and play. Play is an important tool for a child to learn about themselves and the world around them. Therefore, play can be considered a child’s occupation or job and an opportunity to develop physically, emotionally, socially, and intellectually. So maybe we should say “yes, we help people with their jobs.”
What is Occupational Therapy Anyways?
Occupational Therapy is actually a health and medical science that specializes in gaining or improving skills necessary for your child to participate in their daily occupations. OTs, as we are often called, create a sensory-rich environment for your child to increase his abilities to function in his daily life. OTs have thorough training and will assist your child in effectively identifying, regulating, understanding, and performing appropriate motor and behavioral responses to sensations. This increases their abilities to function in the home and community. OTs have specialized training in the analysis and use of functional activities to create a ‘just right’ challenge. Your child’s ‘just right’ challenge allows her to have successful experiences while gaining new skills.
Be wary of . . .
occupational therapy for children that does not integrate play. When occupational therapy is done well, your child:
- gains new skills
- has an increased capacity to learn
- achieves results quicker
- has longer lasting effects
Contributed By: August Quaife, MOTR/L