|Posted on April 9, 2017 at 8:45 PM|
WHAT IS OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY? Many people are unsure of the exact definition of occupational therapy and are even more uncertain of how they could benefit from it. Simply put, occupational therapy helps people to get back to their jobs (or occupations) of life. Occupational therapists can work with people of all ages, but a pediatric occupational therapist helps children develop the skills that they need to grow into functional, independent adults. This can get confusing to understand because occupational therapy can look different for different people, depending on their phase of life, and the specific challenges they are having.
Here are examples of jobs, or skills, that occupational therapy can help with across the ages:
INFANTS: An infant's job is to eat, move according to developmental milestones such as lifting the head, rolling, sitting, crawling, reaching for objects, acknowledging their parents, etc.
TODDLERS: A toddler's job is to start exploring their world by playing, developing fine motor coordination, gross motor coordination, acknowledging and communicating with others, feeding themselves, potty training, developing imagination, etc.
PRESCHOOLERS AND KINDERGARTENERS: This age group starts to develop prewriting and writing skills. They are also able to engage in imaginative play, and they are beginning to be able to play in a group and share with others. They are expected to stay calm when things don't go as planned and focus for a brief period on adult directed activities. They are expected to follow directions, sit still for short periods of time, etc.
ELEMENTARY SCHOOL YEARS: A child's job during this time can include developing proficient writing skills for school, staying calm throughout the day, and staying focused and able to listen and follow directions. Reading and reading comprehension skills are expected to develop during this time. Children are expected to get along with their peers, stay in a line and use appropriate behavior at school. Another job of children this age is to be able to use their social knowledge to be able to make and keep friends. They are expected to know how to tie their shoes and manipulate fasteners on their clothing independently.
MIDDLE SCHOOL YEARS: A child's job during the middle school years may include being social with their friends and being able to get along with a wide variety of people with different personalities. They are expected to have proficient reading and reading comprehension skills, and handwriting skills. Children are expected to stay calm and focused throughout the school day and follow multiple adult directed tasks. Children may or may not participate in extracurricular activities such as music or sports.
HIGH SCHOOL YEARS: A child's job at this age is to be responsible and independent and to remember to do their homework assignments and study without prompting from adults. Writing skills must be satisfactory. Children are expected to stay calm and able to focus throughout the school day. Social skills are needed to participate in extracurricular activities. Children must be able to get along and work in groups with other students who may have differences of opinions. Children in high school are expected to be able to successfully deal with the stress of school, peer pressure, jobs, etc.
IF YOUR CHILD IS HAVING DIFFICULTY WITH ANY OF THESE JOBS, OR SKILLS, AN OCCUPATIONAL THERAPIST MAY BE ABLE TO HELP.