Occupational Therapists (OTs) are highly trained healthcare professionals that evaluate and treat children having difficulty participating in meaningful activities or “occupations” that are needed to conduct their daily routines. For a child, this may include the development of life skills such as learning at school, participating in play, and completing self-care tasks. OTs help children maintain, improve, or restore function and independence, so they can “live life to the fullest”.
Occupational Therapist Collaborate with parent/caregivers, teachers, and other professionals to:
A. Facilitate physical, cognitive, and life skill development.
B. Adapt activities, materials, and environmental barriers to improve a child’s functional independence.
C. Teach and model skills and strategies to children and other adults in their environment to extend therapeutic intervention across all settings.
Recommended interventions are based on:
- A thorough understanding of typical development
- The environments in which children engage (e.g., home, school, playground)
- The impact of disability, illness, and impairment on the individual child’s development, play, learning, and overall occupational performance
Occupational therapy practitioners collaborate with parents/caregivers and other professionals to:
- Identify and meet the needs of children experiencing delays or challenges in development
- Identify and modify or compensate for barriers that interfere with, restrict, or inhibit functional performance
- Teach and model skills and strategies to children, their families and other adults in their environments to extend therapeutic intervention to all aspects of daily life tasks
- Adapt activities, materials, and environmental conditions so children can participate under different conditions and in various settings (e.g., home, school, sports, community programs)
The primary occupations of infants,toddlers and young children are playing, learning, and interacting with caregivers and, eventually, their peers.
Occupational therapy interventions address developmental milestones such as, but not limited to:
- Facilitating movement to sit, crawl, or walk independently
- Learning to pay attention and follow simple instructions
- Developing the ability to eat, drink, wash, and dress independently
- Learning to cope with disappointment or failure
- Reducing extraneous environmental stimuli, such as noise for a child who is easily distracted
- Building skills for sharing, taking turns, and playing with peers
- Using toys and materials in both traditional and creative ways
- Participating in age appropriate daily routines
The primary occupations of older children and teens are integrating educational instruction in and outside of school, forming and maintaining productive friendships, and beginning the transition to work and more independent, higher education.
Occupational therapy interventions often expand to include items such as:
- Adapting or modifying curricula, the environment, or activities to support participation in educational routines and learning activities
- Navigating more complex social relationships, including dating
- Assessing the skills needed to learn to drive or assisting with alternative community mobility options
- Strengthening self-determination and decision making skills, and enhancing overall independence
- Helping with vocational planning and transitions, including employer supports
- Planning for transition to college, including time management, study habits and routines, and independent living skills