April is OT month and occupational therapists around the US are rejoicing. Finally, a month to bring attention to our amazing profession! Finally, a month for us to bring light to what we can help others do! Finally, a month to self-reflect on what it is that we actually do so that we can accurately describe our job in 10 words or less... After close to 15 years of being an OT, I still stumble when explaining what I do on a daily basis.
Occupations are activities and roles that bring meaning to your life. A child’s occupations include play, play, and more play. When a child is old enough, occupations might also include student, athlete, musician, and hobbyist. Occupational therapists assist kids and families in building the skills needed and modifying the environment for a child to be successful in his/her occupations.
A child learns first and foremost through play -- it is the window into their world. Pediatric OTs start here to build relationships with a child and to help build the needed social, motor, behavioral, and neurological skills to be able to play.
We assist kids and families by improving and working with a child’s sensory processing system to help him be able to tolerate the world around them. We help to improve vestibular processing so that her world stops spinning, auditory processing so that everything isn’t too loud for him, and proprioceptive processing so that she doesn’t use too much force when interacting with her friends.
Occupational therapists also work closely with kids and their families to help improve mealtime and other daily living skills. Whether it be a picky eater, a child who over-stuffs, or has difficulty simply sitting at the dinner table, we can help. We can work with kids to increase independence with dressing, bathing, brushing teeth, combing hair, and even toilet training!
Once the foundational skills of play, daily living, and basic self-regulation skills are achieved, occupational therapists can also help with more complex skill development. OTs can help with handwriting, fine motor skills (cutting, coloring, gluing), visual motor skills (puzzles, tying shoes, stacking blocks), organizing homework and locker spaces, even driving (although we at Aspire haven’t been trained in this just yet).
Our occupational therapists work with each individual child and family to assess where your child is at. We discuss what areas of difficulty we might be able to assist with. We work together to help improve your child’s and whole family’s ability to function.
If you think your child and your family might benefit from working with one of our occupational therapists, please contact Aspire for a free consultation today!
Laura McBain is a licensed Occupational Therapist and member of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA).