What is Occupational Therapy?


Occupational therapists use occupations (tasks that are meaningful and purposeful) as their mode of therapy.  

For example, if one had a goal of learning to open a locker latch, the locker latch itself would be used for therapy, not rote repetitions of a pinch grip exercise.  The school setting, time of day, need for the locker, and peer modeling of locker use would all be elements of the therapy. 

Because there is overlap between the job and concerns of the teacher, speech/language pathologist, physical therapist, and occupational therapist, I frequently focus on sensory function, hand skills, and self-care in the school setting.  The idea behind addressing sensory function is to make the student comfortable and ready to learn. 

The main occupations of childhood are family member (including self-care), pre-academics (school tools and early academic concepts), and play (an important conduit for learning and a joyful childhood!).

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Officially put, the practice of occupational therapy means the therapeutic use of everyday life activities (occupations) with individuals or groups for the purpose of participation in roles and situations in home, school, workplace, community, and other settings. Occupational therapy services are provided for the purpose of promoting health and wellness and to those who have or are at risk for developing an illness, injury, disease, disorder, condition, impairment, disability, activity limitation, or participation restriction. Occupational therapy addresses the physical, cognitive, psychosocial, sensory, and other aspects of performance in a variety of contexts to support engagement in everyday life activities that affect health, well-being, and quality of life. (AOTA, 2004).