What is Occupational Therapy?

You’ve likely heard lots of new terms at your child’s IEP, 504, or Transition meetings. It is hard to keep them all straight!While many of us think of Occupational Therapists as providing help with handwriting or using scissors, OTs do so much more.  Occupational therapy (OT) is a form of therapy that helps people perform activities of daily life. This includes eating, bathing, dressing, and going to the bathroom. These activities support a person’s success at school, work, play and home. Support from OTs can help to improve fine motor skills, such as improving handwriting which can lead to better expression of ideas, increased academic confidence and higher engagement in school. OTs also support the development of physical and social skills through play. Watch this video from the American Occupational Therapy Association to learn more about development through play. Depending on your child’s needs, activities of daily life might also include meal preparation, shopping, housework, managing medications, and transportation (either driving around themselves or using public transportation).Check out this helpful brochure from the American Occupational Therapy Association to answer the six Q’s-what, who, why, when, where and how-about occupational therapy.

Has the school recommended OT for your child? Use your Resource Directory to find a provider near your home!

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Hear first-hand from ELI’s own Julie McIsaac about the importance of OT:Occupational therapists have helped my son to strengthen his ability to use his fingers and to learn to trust his own body. This translates to the classroom and to the playground. It affects his self-confidence, his ability to engage in academic work and his social relationships. OT’s have supported us in our quest to become more self-regulated, to appreciate the importance of processing information from all senses. We now have a better sense of what his body needs to feel calmer and more grounded. He's learning how to seek that input to help calm his emotions.  “Functional” is not a word I would use to describe my goals and aspirations for my child, but “happy and engaged in life” is, and OTs have helped us to reach this goal.