What is OT?
The World Federation of Occupational Therapistsprovides the following definition of Occupational Therapy:"Occupational therapy is as a profession concerned withpromoting health and well being through occupation. Theprimary goal of occupational therapy is to enable peopleto participate in the activities of everyday life.Occupational therapists achieve this outcome by enablingpeople to do things that will enhance their ability toparticipate or by modifying the environment to better support participation."
According to the American Occupational Therapy Association,“Occupational therapy is a science-driven, evidence-basedprofession that enables people of all ages to live lifeto its fullest by helping them promote health andprevent—or live better with—illness, injury or disability.“
Occupational therapy has it’s roots in the field of psychology.In fact, that is where the name “occupational” originates.It refers to occupation in the broad sense of the word,meaning everything we do each day. As life often happens,people are met with challenges, illnesses, and disabilitiesthat affect the manner in which daily tasks are performed.Occupational therapists help people gain and restoreabilities in the areas of self-care skills, work oracademics skills, and play or leisure skills.Every person has a desire of independence andoccupational therapist help people achieve independence.
When working with children, occupationaltherapists focus on the main occupationof a child, play. In order to perform theoccupation of play children need to havemotor skills, sensory development, socialinteraction, and cognition. Occupationaltherapists work with each of these areasto help children develop the skillsnecessary to perform play activities.
Another occupation of a child is academics.Children spend much of their childhood ina classroom learning academic and work skills.In order to participate in school, children needto be able to perform tasks such as sitting ina desk, attending to tasks for extended periodsof time, transitioning from one task to another,following multi-step directions, performing motorskills such as handwriting, and learning.Occupational therapist can help get the rootof the problem in many children who havedifficulties in school.
Occupational therapist also address dailyliving skills including dressing, grooming,and feeding. Each of these tasks require acomplex combination of motor skills, cognition,sequencing, and sensory integration to complete.OTs use various theories and therapeutic practiceto help children reach developmental milestonesand independence in self-care activities.
Occupational therapist are experts at task analysis,breaking down a task into each part needed to have asuccessful end product. They work in a variety oftreatment settings including hospitals, private clinics,schools, preschools, and in the home. Pediatric occupationaltherapist work with children from birth to 21 years with avariety of developmental or acquired disabilities includingdiagnosis such as autism spectrum disorder, learning disabilities,cerebral palsy, developmental delay, Asperger’s Syndrome, DevelopmentalCoordination Disorder, Down’s Syndrome, chromosomal anomalies,muscular dystrophy, traumatic brain injury, spinal cordinjury, seizure disorder and other disorders thataffect a child’s development.