What is Occupational Therapy?
In its simplest terms, occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants help people across the lifespan participate in daily life activities through the therapeutic use of everyday activities (occupations) that are meaningful to them. These “skills for the job of living” are necessary to ensure satisfying, fulfilling, and independent lives.
Common occupational therapy interventions include helping children with disabilities to participate fully in school and social situations, helping people recovering from injury to regain skills, and providing supports for older adults experiencing physical and cognitive changes. Occupational therapy services typically include:
- an individualized evaluation, during which the client/family and occupational therapist determine the person’s goals
- customized intervention to improve the person’s ability to perform daily activities and reach the goals
- an outcomes evaluation to ensure that the goals are being met and/or make changes to the intervention plan
Pediatric Occupational Therapy
For children, the primary occupation is play. Through play a child develops physically, mentally, and emotionally; allowing them to function effectively within their environment. When a deficit or delay exists in development, an Occupational Therapist works closely with the child and family to create a program of activities or adaptations to meet their specific needs through the therapeutic use of play.
How do I know if my child needs Occupational Therapy?
Areas of concern often addressed by a pediatric Occupational Therapists include:
- Fine motor skill challenges Using the hands to complete a task. This can include things like writing skills, buttons and snaps, use of utensils and scissors, and picking up small objects
- Gross motor The child may appear awkward, accident-prone or clumsy. This can include activities such as catching a ball standing on one foot to put on pants or socks.
- Self-care Dressing, feeding and eating, toileting, grooming and hygiene)
- Visual skills To use hands and eyes together, discriminating between objects, etc.
- Sensory processing Creating an appropriate response to information from the environment such as light, touch, sound, movement, smell, taste, and awareness of our body. Your child might be over or under sensitive to these things.
- Cognitive skills Which can include problem solving, attention, and following directions
When a child does not seem to be developing like his/her siblings or peers, an Occupational Therapist may be necessary to determine if services are needed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides a list of developmental milestones from birth to age 5 and beyond. Refer to this information and talk with your doctor if you have questions or concerns about your individual child’s development.
The specially trained Occupational Therapists at St. Claire Regional's Outpatient Center can help. Please call (606) 783-6919 for more information or (606) 783-7676 to schedule an evaluation with an Occupational Therapist.