By: Ashley Glasser, MS, OTR/L
Think of the word “occupation” as how a person occupies their time. How does a child spend their time? They play with toys, move their body, get themselves dressed, take a bath, socialize with peers, interact with family members, eat a meal, complete their homework, watch television, dance to a favorite song, climb on the playground, etc. Typically, a child and/or family may not give much thought to these routines. They happen day in and day out as part of the normal ebb and flow of the family unit. A child may express disinterest in dinner occasionally, but that’s to be expected. They may get into a one-time scuffle with a peer, but it’s part of learning boundaries with friends. They may fall randomly while running and scrape their knee, but it becomes one of a few scars they’ll earn as they figure out their ever-evolving body.
However, what happens when these things become daily occurrences? What about routines that are a constant challenge, instead of an occasional headache? What if a child consistently has trouble meeting milestones that their peers seem to be hitting with minimal difficulty? An occupational therapist may be able to help.
Occupational therapy helps a child to be able to participate in their daily activities, aiming for function, independence, and feeling as successful as possible. An occupational therapist keeps the child’s and the parent’s goals in mind, will use what the child is interested in in their interventions, and will always make sure that strategies are realistic and can be incorporated into what the family is already doing.
Occupational therapy is holistic, in that the therapist takes the whole child into account (motor, sensory, psychological, emotional, etc.) and can analyze all aspects of a task (the person, the environment, and the activity) to determine the best interventions.
Whatever a child wants or needs to do in their everyday life, an occupational therapist can help!