What is Occupational Therapy?

Your child’s life is made up of occupations, or everyday activities. These occupations include playing, learning, sleeping and resting, interacting with friends, getting dressed, and other daily activities. Many of us generally don’t think about a child’s daily occupations until they have challenges doing them.

Everyone has occupations—from the toddler whose occupations are to play and learn, to the older child whose occupations are to be a student and develop the skills to become more independent. Occupational Therapy supports children of all ages—newborns to teenagers—by incorporating the occupations that are important to you and your child into the intervention process, whether it be at school, during rehabilitation, or at a medical facility.

How can Occupational Therapy help my child?

The core of Occupational Therapy is to promote participation. This can mean helping a child who has concentration challenges to succeed in school, supporting a child with autism to socialize, helping a child who uses a wheelchair to play with his or her peers, helping a child with a developmental disability get dressed independently, helping all children to play with toys or use tools such as crayons—addressing everything regarding a particular child’s skills and needs.

An Occupational Therapist will evaluate your child, the environment, the task or activity. And, with additional input from you, develop individualized goals that address resuming or pursuing things that are important to your child and family. You and the Occupational Therapist will work together on an individualized intervention plan to help improve or maintain your child’s ability to perform daily activities and reach those goals. 

This plan will take into account what your child wants and needs to do, as well as his or her abilities, which may include modifying both the task and the environment to allow your child to be as independent as possible.

Occupational Therapy Practitioners also focus on prevention, promoting healthy lifestyles, and addressing mental health. For the young child, Occupational Therapy focuses on promoting growth and development and helps families with care-giving strategies. Occupational Therapy practitioners can widen their focus to groups or school-wide initiatives, which includes anti-bullying strategies, ways to address obesity, and promoting good school design.

What do Occupational Therapist's treat?

  • Decreased range of motion - limits in moving the head, neck, body or limbs
  • Decreased strength - difficulty performing age appropriate weight bearing movements (ie: bear walk, wheelbarrow walk) and holding body positions against gravity (ie: superman)
  • Fine motor delays - difficulty with handwriting and cutting skills, using a pincer grasp to pick up small items, and buttoning a shirt.
  • Self-care delays - difficulty performing dressing, grooming, tooth brushing, and feeding skills
  • Bilateral coordination delays - difficulty using both hands together to perform a task (ie: tying shoes, throwing/catching a ball)
  • Visual perceptual disorders - difficulty organizing visual information from the environment in order to perform a task (ie: putting a puzzle together)
  • Sensory processing disorders - difficulty responding appropriately to different sensory experiences (ie: touch, taste, sound and movement) which interferes with the ability to perform daily activities

What is the difference between an Occupational Therapist and a Physical Therapist?

Physical therapy aims to increase mobility and function. Occupational therapy practitioner’s help people of all ages develop the skills they need to succeed in everyday life where they live, learn, work and play.

Is it best to have my child screened early?

Yes. As soon as you suspect a delay in any of the areas above, it is best to have a screening completed. Screenings are offered free of charge at your child's school or at our office located in South Miami, FL.