What is Occupational Therapy?


What is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational Therapy focuses on making individuals as independent and functional as possible within their activities of daily living. Activities of daily living include self-care, work, social and leisure. OT focuses on addressing the physical, psychiatric, paediatric, sensory, motor skills, geriatric and vocational components of the individual.

Individuals attending OT are from various age groups:

  • Children
  • Adolescents
  • Adults

OT in children and adolescents

Within the younger age groups, school is referred to as the child’s occupation, however within the older populations work or vocation is their occupation. OT’s often work in the school setting to enhance the child’s functionality within this environment, which include play, social skills and education. During early stages of development some children struggle with some vital components of development associated with play, feeding, sensory processing skills, social skills or motor skills. An OT is sought out for a development assessment if there if a problem in any of these areas, which has resulted in functional deficits.

Sensory integration disorders present themselves within this age group. SI can be described as the way a child organizes sensations from one’s own body and the environment and respond effectively.

Gross motor skills are a vital area focused on during the therapy process, aimed at addressing muscle tone and strength, balance, co-ordination, and endurance to name a few. Children who present with gross motor difficulties often present with fine motor difficulties as well. These include handwriting and pencil grip problems, motor control and dexterity, fine motor co-ordination, cutting and colouring. OT also addresses perceptual areas during therapy such as visual motor integration, visual closure and visual figure ground to name a few. All of which are vital in the schooling process. Adolescents attending OT would have areas such as visual perception, fine motor and cognition addressed, together with the focus of self esteem, which is imperative in this stage of their developmental milestones.

How do I know if my child needs Occupational Therapy?

Your child might need OT if

  • Difficulty during gross motor tasks- skipping, hopping, jumping, they are clumsy
  • Presses hard when writing
  • Writes very slowly or very quickly therefore impacting on neatness
  • Writing speed is too slow impacting on test performance
  • Attention or concentration deficits affecting work ability
  • Sensory seeking child or avoids all tactile input
  • Colouring or cutting deficits
  • Self esteem and anxiety concerns related to school performance

OT in adults

Within the adult population group, work is their main occupation. At times many adults are very focused on work resulted in an imbalance in their activities of daily living. OT’s work on assessing and treating adults within all areas of their activities of daily living, namely work, leisure, social and self-care. Functional assessments are used to obtain their level of ability and functionality allowing an individual to complete their daily occupation.

OT’s can assist in the following life skills:

  • Stress management,
  • Goal setting,
  • Conflict management, and
  • Time management
  • Activities health and a balanced lifestyle

How do I know if I need OT:

  • Functional assessment
  • Life skills training
  • Balanced lifestyle
  • Time management
  • Goal setting
  • Routine planning