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What is occupational therapy?

Occupational therapy is a holistic healthcare profession that focuses on helping people participate in meaningful activities, or "occupations," that are important to them. For children, these occupations include playing, learning, socializing, and self-care tasks such as dressing, eating, and grooming.  Pediatric Occupational Therapy is centered around play, which is a child's most prominent occupation. Through child-led play, children learn about the environment around them, develop skills necessary for everyday tasks and activities, foster independence, and support key concepts that create foundations for later life skills.

How Can Occupational Therapy Help?

Our experienced occupational therapists work closely with children and their families to identify areas of difficulty and develop personalized treatment plans. Through a combination of therapeutic activities, exercises, and interventions, occupational therapy can address a wide range of challenges, including:

  • Fine motor skills: Improving hand-eye coordination, grip strength, and manual dexterity for activities like writing, drawing, and using utensils.
  • Gross motor skills: Enhancing balance, coordination, and motor planning for tasks such as running, jumping, and climbing.
  • Sensory processing: Helping children regulate their responses to sensory stimuli (such as touch, sound, and movement) to improve attention, and self-regulation.
  • Activities of daily living (ADLs): Teaching essential self-care skills such as dressing, feeding, and toileting to promote independence and confidence.
  • Social skills: Facilitating social interactions, cooperation, and communication skills to foster meaningful relationships with peers and adults.
  • School readiness/performance: Skills including copying and cutting.

Who Would Benefit from Occupational Therapy?

A child may need an OT assessment and or ongoing treatment if they are having difficulty with one or more of the following:

  • Overresponsive or unresponsive to sensory stimuli such as touch, sound, and movement
  • Difficulty with fine motor skills such handwriting, grasping/picking up objects, opening containers, buttoning/zipping.
  • Difficulty with self-calming/self-regulation skills.
  • Difficulty with transitions or changes in environment/routines.
  • Challenges with self-help skills (i.e., dressing, self-feeding, grooming, etc).

Common Definitions

  • Sensory Integration

    The ability of the brain and body to take incoming sensory information from the environment and create an efficient motor response.

  • Vestibular input
    The receptors for the vestibular system are located in the inner ear and give us information about where our body is in space and how our bodies are moving in conjunction with the environment. This system also helps with our balance and coordination.
  • Proprioceptive Input
    The receptors are located in the muscles and joints and register active input to helps us know where our body parts are in space in relation to each other.
  • Tactile Input
    Touch receptors are in the skin and provide information about our environment. These receptors alert the brain to different types of touch and where they are located on the body (sharp, dull, smooth, dangerous, calming).
  • Motor Planning
    The ability to have an idea how to do something, plan it out, and sequence the movements needed to complete the idea.
  • Modulation
    The brain's regulation of the body's activity. Modulation involves the brain being able to filter out irrelevant information from the environment and attend to the task at hand. Example, Being able to attend to one's homework while the television is on, a fan is blowing air across your face, and people are walking in and out of the room.