Occupational Therapy (OT) is a health care profession concerned with improving a person’s occupational performance. It is divided into areas of work, leisure and activities of daily living (ADL). Occupational Therapists are trained in neuroscience, human development, psychology, sociology, physiology and kinesiology (study of movement).

Step 1: Within the pediatric setting, the therapist will evaluate a child’s performance in relation to what is developmentally expected for that age group. If there is a discrepancy between functional ability and developmental expectations, the therapist will look at a variety of sensory, neuromuscular, perceptual and development areas that influences the child’s ability to perform at their maximal potential. The therapist would assess the child’s current performance and ascertain the impact of factors affecting their academic/ functional performance.

Step 2: Occupational Therapists are trained to support developmental skills that affect everyday life. These include academic skills, play and social skills and activities of daily living (dressing, eating, bathing, brushing teeth, etc). The primary occupation of a child is to play as play teacher how to successfully interact with the world. Play also forms the foundation for academic learning.

Uniqueness of Occupational therapy

Step 3: Occupational Therapists are trained in activity analysis. This means looking at a specific part of an activity in order to determine the demands required from a sensory, motor, emotional and perceptual aspect.

Based on analysing the task (for example, brushing teeth), the therapist then determines what skills the child needs to be to independently and efficiently brush their teeth. The therapist will evaluate the sensory components (many children cannot tolerate how the toothbrush feels in their mouth or the type of toothpaste that is used) muscular components (fine motor skills like being able to take the cap off the tube, strength to squeeze the tube, coordinating of the left and right hand while putting the putting the paste on the tube, gripping the brush while moving it around in the mouth in a circular motion, maintaining standing balance while performing the task, etc) perceptual components (how much toothpaste is needed to cover the tooth brush, where to place the toothpaste, the amount of space between my body and the basin so that they can rinse and spit without messing on the floor or side of the basin, etc) and emotional components (the emotional aspect for many children are related to the difficulty with sensory processing affecting their ability to tolerate the toothbrush. This leads to avoidance of the task or outbursts/ meltdowns when it’s time for teeth brushing)