Occupational therapy practitioners work with children, adolescents, their families, caregivers, and teachers to promote independence in activities and occupations that are meaningful to them through a habilitative or rehabilitative process.
“For children and youth, occupations are activities that enable them to learn and develop life skills, be creative and derive enjoyment, and thrive as both a means and an end.”
Performance skills needed to participate in daily tasks:
- Fine motor skills (pinching, writing, in-hand manipulation)
- Gross motor skills (jumping, climbing, bilateral coordination)
- Visual motor skills (copying shapes, identifying shapes)
- Sensory Regulation (avoiding loud noises, seeking touch)
- Behavioral Regulation (coping strategies, modeling)
- Cognitive functioning (problem solving, attention)
Recommended interventions are based on an understanding of typical development, the environment in which children engage in (such as the home, school, playground, etc.) and the impact of disability, illness, and the impairment on the child’s development, play, learning, and performance in his/her daily tasks.
The primary occupations of infants, toddlers and children are playing, learning, and interacting with caregivers/peers. Interventions address developmental milestones such as:
- Assisting in movement to sit, crawl, and walk
- Addressing the ability to bathe and dress
- Addressing oral motor movements to chew, eat and drink
- Participating in age appropriate daily routines
- Learning to pay attention and follow simple instructions
- Building social participation skills for sharing, taking turns, playing with peers
- Using toys and materials in both traditional and non-traditional ways
- Reducing environmental stimuli to maintain appropriate regulation
As for older children and teens, the primary occupations include attending to higher level life skills, forming and maintaining productive friendships, and beginning the transition to young adult. Interventions expand to include such items as:
- Modifying education, environment, or activities to support participation in daily routine
- Exploring and engaging in social relationships
- Strengthening self-determination and decision-making
- Encouraging increased independence with daily life tasks such as meal prep, cleaning, and a daily routine
- Assisting with vocational planning and transitioning
- Higher level executive functioning skills such as problem solving, time management, and insight
Additional services and interventions may include children with serious illness or injury, requiring medically based or rehabilitative occupational therapy services. These services are developmentally appropriate and may emphasize physical skills to improve:
- Adaptive skills or equipment
- Environmental modifications
All occupational therapy practitioners are trained in psychosocial and mental health conditions to address children’s emotional and behavioral needs as they relate to everyday activities. These strategies may include:
- Calming strategies to cope
- Dealing with frustration
- Defusing anger
- Managing impulsivity
- Addressing sadness
Additional techniques and interventions that our practitioners are trained in include:
- Advanced Therapeutic Listening Providers
- Deep Pressure and Proprioceptive Technique
- Zones of Regulation
- Sensory Integration Certification
- Feeding Therapy
While we teach children the skills they have yet to learn or re-teach skills they have already learned, children teach us every day. Each person is unique and approaches tasks in a variety of ways. Therefore, we are here to help figure out the best way for your child to be independent and successful in their daily tasks – by completing tasks the way that makes sense to them.
What is the difference between OTR and COTA?
- Registered Occupational Therapists (OTR) have the ability to evaluate, interpret the assessment, create a treatment plan, implement the treatment plan, educate, and advocate with the children and their families.
- Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants (COTA) have the ability to implement and update the treatment plan of care, provide feedback to the OTR on the child’s progress, educate and advocate for the child’s needs and abilities.