Despite what the name suggests, Occupational Therapists do not help children find jobs! Occupational Therapists help children with the occupations of childhood. Occupations are activities or roles that a child wants to do, needs to do or is expected to do in their day to day lives. Occupations are typically performed at home, school and in the community and are grouped into 3 categories:
- self-care – feeding, toileting, dressing, personal hygiene
- productivity – school, volunteering, work
- leisure – play, extra-curricular activities
As you can see from this list, there are many areas that an Occupational Therapist may address. A child might be referred for Occupational Therapy services for concerns in one area or for concerns with performance across many areas. Regardless of the reason for referral, an Occupational Therapist will assess a combination of:
- the child’s underlying skills (e.g., hand/arm strength, hand-eye coordination, motor planning, core stability, sensory processing);
- the activity being learned (e.g., printing, cutting, self-feeding, dressing, toilet training, tying shoes, riding a bike); and
- the environment where the activity is being done (e.g., classroom, school yard, home, community).
When a child is referred for Occupational Therapy services, the Occupational Therapist partners with families to determine what is contributing to a child’s issues, to set realistic goals for improving performance and to provide effective treatment strategies aimed at achieving those goals.
All of this is done with the ultimate goal of maximizing a child’s potential for participation and independence in daily occupations.