You may be wondering why occupational therapy is important?
Or maybe you’re curious as to why you should have your child work with an occupational therapist?
These are everyday questions to think about before beginning your occupational therapy journey.
This post will shed light on the importance of occupational therapy (commonly referred to as OT) by covering what you need to know …
- Why it’s important
- What it is
- The functions of an occupational therapist
- Useful tips to maximize the services of an occupational therapist
- Different working environments to find an occupational therapist
- Who occupational therapists help
- Plus, helpful resources (so be sure to stick around to the end of the post)!
Let’s get started. 🙂
Why Is Occupational Therapy Important?
OT plays a vital role in helping you regain wellness and continue with a healthy and meaningful life when it comes to your daily activities.
It helps you perform day-to-day tasks such as brushing your teeth, dressing, or going to the bathroom more independently and with ease.
OT in early intervention will help your child succeed with developmental delays or a known physical or mental condition commonly associated with delays.
The importance of doing OT early on can drastically improve motor skills (muscle movements), cognitive thinking, sensory processing, play time, and effective communication.
AND that’s EXACTLY what an occupational therapist does … to help improve the overall quality of life of their patients. 🙂
So let’s familiarize you with what an OT therapist is.
What Is An Occupational Therapist?
An occupational therapist goes far beyond helping you perform daily activities.
It’s much deeper than that.
They aim to raise your self-esteem, confidence, and sense of independence in addition to enhancing your capacity to participate in society.
In a nutshell, they help you become more dependent on yourself.
As we previously touched on, OT experts have you perform common day-to-day activities like dressing, sitting, eating, bathing, walking, and even drinking.
Their goal is to minimize the disability that makes it challenging to do these tasks.
Functions of an Occupational Therapist
The first thing to know is an OT therapist is a highly trained professional.
They specialize in helping kids who are challenged mentally and physically.
These experts offer strategies to cope with life’s daily struggles as well as ways to handle various physical, mental, and social challenges you may face in the future.
An occupational therapist utilizes different tools to assess your kid’s ability when it comes to your family setting and their natural day to day environment.
For instance, does your child go to a public or private school?
If so, your OT specialist will work with them on ways to improve their school experience; like learning to grasp or release toys, enhance their handwriting or computer skills.
Because of their laser focused training, occupational therapists are well-positioned to develop solutions and strategies to help your kid maximize their daily activities in the most beneficial way.
Tips to Maximizing the Services of Occupational Therapy
As a parent, here are useful tips to maximizing your time with an OT therapist to help your kiddo succeed.
Ask questions and do your OWN due diligence during the initial meeting.
During your initial consultation, take detailed notes.
Allow your natural curiosity to take over by sharing what comes to mind. 🙂
When you move onto the assessment and evaluation stage, have your notes ready to go including any information you gather.
These professionals are skilled in what they do and know you are new to the world of OT so don’t be afraid to share your thoughts and ask questions!
They will walk you through your occupational journey every step of the way.
Remember, OT is a learning experience and the start of a new beginning to providing the best quality of life for your child. 🙂
Occupational therapy is a team effort.
If your child is receiving OT at home or a clinic, expect your occupational therapist to get you involved on some level.
They will most likely provide you handouts or step-by-step instructions on how to best help your kid adapt to their new-found exercises and routine.
Be sure to implement your OT’s recommended exercises or other programs as this will help your child advance both physically and mentally.
Surround yourself with supportive people.
Going through your OT journey is WAY more effective when the right support is offered.
Surround yourself with those who bring you up NOT down.
You are doing yourself a disservice if you allow negative individuals that do not support your decisions.
The positive support you receive throughout your lifetime including your OT experience is the best fuel for your soul.
It will only help you and your child live life to the fullest.
Consistency is key.
It’s important to continue what’s recommended by your child’s OT expert to help them reach new developmental milestones.
Stay consistent as this will establish a habitual routine for your child to learn and grow from.
Most importantly, following your OT’s instructions will do leaps and bounds for your child’s physical well being and their mental state by boosting their confidence, independence, and self-esteem.
OT’s use therapeutic tools to develop motor skills.
Occupational therapists utilize tools and equipment to strengthen motor functions to help you perform daily tasks like walking, standing, and sitting.
Here are common tools that are used to enhance motor functions during an OT session:
- Walker. For those who need less assistance when walking, a walker allows you to move more freely but still offers support and balance when walking.
- Gait trainer. For those who are unable to walk independently, a gait trainer offers more support and balance when walking.
- Standing frame. Mostly recommended for those who extensively use wheelchairs, a standing frame does exactly that, it provides support to help a child stand up.
- Pediatric chair. Assistive seating equipment can range from offering head support, spinal alignment, pelvic stability, or other positioning support needed.
- Adaptive bicycle or trike. These fun and functional activities play an important role during OT to get a child moving.
- Visual stimulation device. These types of devices can improve vision and brain function. It also enhances focus, attention, stimulation, or relaxation for those with sensory challenges.
Different Occupational Therapy Environments
OT professionals work in different environments and setups.
It is common to use an OT specialist in places like a community health center, schools, hospitals, your home, or nursing homes.
Who Do Occupational Therapists Help?
OT experts provide services to a WIDE range of clients from younger to older.
Primarily, they are trained to help children but they also offer expert services to other clients like teenagers and adults.
Individuals who benefit most include those with …
- Brain injuries
- Birth injuries
- Birth defects
- Learning problems
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Mental health challenges
- Sensory processing challenges
- Behavioral challenges
- Orthopedic injuries (like a broken bone)
Occupational therapists handle different kinds of health conditions that hinder a child’s growth and development to allow them to live a more self-reliant lifestyle.
OT Mom Learning Activities. This website has a TON of helpful free resources and information. The creator, Tracey le Roux, is a homeschooling mom of 3 with a background of pediatric occupational therapy (OT). The knowledge and wisdom she offers is priceless.
Occupational Therapy resources at Fun and Function. Pediatric therapists and educators (who are parents themselves) run the business. The founder is an occupational therapist whose passion is to provide the best tools for therapists in addition to kid-friendly and affordable therapeutic tools to help them develop. They also offer professional development courses for therapists.
Star Institute has a resource directory of occupational therapists in addition to speech language pathologists, physical therapists, and others who help children with sensory challenges.
Find an Occupational Therapist. This website provides a National database of OT’s which includes descriptions of their practice. Be sure to pay attention to the “description” section because some OT’s work specifically with children and others work with just adults or teens.
Occupational therapists are trained to help kids with special needs.
They specialize in handling developmental challenges and know ways to navigate those challenges on a daily basis.
If you feel your child will benefit from OT, but aren’t sure where to begin …
- Ask your pediatrician to refer you to a specialist.
- Talk to your child’s school nurse or guidance counselor for a recommendation.
- Contact your local children’s hospital or rehab center for a referral.
- Look into your state’s occupational therapy association for OT’s near you.
Lastly, I want to wrap up by extending my gratitude to thank you for stopping by today!
If you have occupational therapists you would recommend, questions, or anything you’d like to add that I did not cover in this post, feel free to share by commenting below.
If this information added value to your research efforts, please share by clicking the sidebar link to help another child. 🙂
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