Occupational Therapists are trained to assist people of all ages to perform the functional tasks that normally occupy their lives. The occupation of childhood is to develop the skills necessary to become functional and independent adults. These skills include:
- Regulation of arousal and energy level in order to pay attention.
- Refinement of sensory discrimination and processing.
- Continual refinement and development of motor skills.
- Development of communication skills.
- Appropriate social interactions.
- Language and cognitive skills.
- Age appropriate self care skills.
- Self concept and self esteem.
The expectations for the level of development of any of these skills will vary depending on the child’s age. It is critical to remember that all of these skills are developing simultaneously. Impairment of one area is likely to stunt development in other areas.
Play is the media most often used in the Occupational Therapist’s treatment of children. It is highly motivating and a
natural media used by all children. Education and involvement of the family is usually a primary consideration and may be critical to success.
The educational background of Occupational Therapists includes extensive course work in anatomy, neurology and
psychology. Their education also includes course work in activity analysis. This enables the therapist to analyze the
components of a play or work activity choosing tasks that will improve the child’s basic skills. Occupational Therapists are currently required to hold a Master’s degree.