What is Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy, often called OT, is the use of treatments to develop, recover, or maintain the daily living and work skills of people with a physical, mental or developmental condition. Occupational therapy interventions focus on adapting the environment, modifying the task, teaching the skill, and educating the client/family in order to increase participation in and performance of daily activities, particularly those that are meaningful to the client.


What can Occupational Therapy achieve?

OT can help kids with various needs improve their cognitive, physical, and motor skills and enhance their self-esteem and sense of accomplishment.

Occupational therapists might help kids:

  • work on fine motor skills so they can grasp and release toys and develop good handwriting skills
  • address hand-eye coordination to improve kids’ play skills (hitting a target, batting a ball, copying from a blackboard, etc.
  • learn basic tasks (such as bathing, getting dressed, brushing their teeth, and feeding themselves)
  • anger-management techniques (i.e., instead of hitting others or acting out, using positive ways to deal with anger, such as writing about feelings or participating in a physical activity
  • teach kids with physical disabilities the coordination skills needed to feed themselves, use a computer, or increase the speed and legibility of their handwriting
  • improve focus and social skills in kids who have sensory and attention difficulties.
  • Occupational therapists not only work directly with the child, but also with the family, parents and caregivers in order to educate and reinforce specific skills and behaviours which will be used to improve and facilitate the child’s performance and functioning.

How is it differ from Sensory Integration standalone?

  • OT is a holistic approach.
  • In addition to SI, Gross motor, Fine motor training, etc it also focuses on the occupation of a child. They are play, leisure and learning or schooling.
  • It is important to address these occupations for a child’s overall development.

Who needs Occupational Therapy?

  • Sensory Processing Disorders (Organizing & sequencing problems, Attention & concentration issues, etc.)
  • Learning Problems (Classroom difficulties, Handwriting problems, Memory issues, etc.)
  • Autism/Pervasive Developmental Disorders
  • Developmental Delays, Cerebral Palsy (Gross or fine motor delay, Communication issues, etc.)
  • Birth Injuries Or Birth Defects
  • Behavioural Problems

What can I expect at the initial assessment session?

Once the OT has gathered necessary information from you, she will spend time with your child. This time is focused on building rapport, utilizing standardized assessments to identify specific skills like:

  • Visual motor and visual perceptual skills
  • Fine motor development related to dexterity, strength, grasp efficiency, range of motion, and bilateral use (how well the hands work together)
  • Gross motor strength, endurance, and coordination
  • Motor planning abilities
  • Self-help skills related to dressing, grooming, and feeding
  • Executive functioning skills related to attention, organization, flexibility, etc.
  • Self-regulation (how a child calms themselves or adapts to their environment)
  • Sensory processing abilities (how a child processes what he sees, hears, feels, etc. and produces an appropriate response)

How are the sessions conducted?

  • Occupational therapy sessions can be conducted in a one-to-one setting or in a group. Sometimes, the occupational therapist may recommend group sessions to train playing skills and social interaction towards peers in a more natural communication environment that a group setting provides.
  • You may ask the occupational therapist to explain the reasons for recommending either individual or group sessions for your child.

When should I seek professional help?

  • Seek professional advice when you become concerned. Don’t delay. No child is too young to be helped. If there is a problem, early attention is important. If there is no problem, you will be relieved of worry.