What is Occupational Therapy?

What is Occupational Therapy and why does my child need it?  Do OTs work only with children with autism?

I can’t tell you how many times in over thirteen years I’ve been asked about my profession.  The most common mis-conception is that OTs are trained to find jobs for people.  It is true that some OTs rehabilitate clients after injury for the eventual return to work.  As a whole, the word “occupation” in our title refers to the “job of living.”  The activities we complete on a daily basis are called ADLs, or activities of daily living.   ADLs refer to things from bathing, dressing, toileting, and moving on and off of a chair or bed.  In the pediatric population, the primary occupation (or job) of the child is to play.  Playing involves using the arms and legs to hop, skip, tie shoes, complete handwriting, buttoning, etc.  In other words, a pediatric occupational therapist can help your child to better perform any activity through play-based activities.  (I’ll write more about how the typical OT session generally looks in a later blog.)

So, an occupational therapist who works with children can help any child with any number of special needs including:  Down’s Snydrome, Autism, PDD, genetic issues, or even children without any medical diagnosis who just need a little more help with ADLs.


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