What is occupational therapy? It sounds like it has to do with your job or occupation. But then why is it used for kids? Pediatric occupational therapy is a huge and growing field.
Instead of thinking about an “occupation” as a job, let’s think about it as a normal daily activity or hobby. Occupational therapy is a great way to help people who struggle throughout their day to perform activities that most people would consider “normal.” With children, this kind of therapy can be very beneficial to begin at a young age because it can help them create healthy habits that they will continue to use throughout their life.
Some habits that an occupational therapist may work through with your child are: getting dressed, getting ready for bed, playing with toys, eating, interacting with peers or adults, general personal hygiene, and discovering and participating in leisure activities.
In general, your therapist will want to know some background about your child. They may even want to visit him at school or at home to see what kinds of situations he encounters on a daily basis and what his environment is like. The child’s environment may play a huge role in their development and interactions with other people and other things in their life. A therapist can also work with parents to create a dynamic environment where, even when they leave, the child can still be learning and growing through their therapy. Sometimes minor adaptations in the child’s environment can make a great deal of difference in how they react to difficult situations, interact with others, or spend their leisure time.
Finding a good fit for your occupational therapist is very important. Although sometimes treatment plans will need to be changed and revised, if your child doesn’t respond to the therapist at all, you may need to find someone else. In general, pediatric occupational therapists are extremely friendly and empathetic to your child’s situation and can usually adapt their treatment plan when something isn’t working like it should.