What is occupational therapy?
Occupational therapy is an area of practice that supports the development of skills related to daily function. “Daily function” is a broad category that encompasses everything that a child “does” during the day (self-care, school, play, leisure activities, and social relationships). Occupational therapists assist children by:
· Assessing the child to determine why they are not meeting functional expectations
· Providing therapy to improve the difficulties that are identified
· Providing strategies to the child and to the parents to compensate for the identified difficulties
Occupation: The “occupational” part of “occupational therapy” refers to anything that “occupies” a person; the functional tasks that are important to their success and quality of life. A child’s occupational performance is shaped by their ability to learn and participate in a wide variety of functions. A child learns by exploring their environment, by playing, by interacting with family, friends and teachers, and by direct teaching from others. Physical, cognitive, emotional or social difficulties can negatively impact a child’s ability to learn and participate in the activities that are important to them, and those that are important for their future success.
Therapy = The “therapy” parts of “occupational therapy” refers to what we do in order to address problems with function.
An occupational therapist is trained to:
· Assess whether a child has an impairment or difficulty related to a function or to a component of function
· Communicate with the child and their family about the functional goals that are most important to them.
· Develop a plan with the child and family to reach the functional goals that have been identified
· Provide therapeutic interventions to improve the child’s function
· Teach the child and family to follow a therapy program designed to improve the child’s function
· Recommend assistive devices, aids and adaptations that will help to improve the child’s function.
Will My Child Benefit from OT?
Pediatric OT services can help if your child has difficulties with:
· Gross motor skills (running, jumping, balancing, throwing and catching, etc…)
· Fine motor skills (manipulating objects in their hands, cutting, holding a pencil or crayon, drawing or printing)
· Cognitive skills (remembering, paying attention, problem solving, sequencing)
· Emotional regulation (tantrums, impulsivity, difficulties remaining ‘in control’ of their emotions)
· Daily living skills (dressing, toileting, following a routine, eating/ food sensitivities)
· Social skills (making friends, interacting with others in a group setting, meeting new people)
Meridian’s pediatric OTs offer services for children 0-18 years old.
What makes our occupational therapy program different?
At Meridian, our occupational therapists strongly value working in a team with the child, their caregivers and other professions.
· We work closely with parents/ caregivers to make sure that what happens in therapy can be integrated into everyday routines and activities.
· We work as a team with our colleagues (speech language pathologists, rehabilitation assistants, teachers, behaviour analysts) and this helps to ensure that parents and children have a coordinated and cohesive approach to their child’s therapy plan.
· We believe that the most important therapy occurs in the time period between “therapy” sessions. Therefore, we coach and teach the people involved in their child’s life to ensure that the child has the best chance for success.