What is Occupational Therapy

Shelby Hagedorn, COTA/L
When you hear “occupational therapy”, what do you think of?

Some of you may think “it helps me find a job” or “a type of therapy that relates to what I do at my job”. In fact, occupational therapy is much more than that! Occupational therapy is a type of therapy that helps people of all ages participate in the activities that are meaningful and that they want or need to do throughout their life. Each individual has different roles such as being a parent, teacher, doctor, sibling, student, friend, etc.. Adding to that, everyone participates in occupations such as crawling, walking, playing, riding a bike, driving a car, brushing their teeth or hair, taking care of their homes, cooking, and many more. As an occupational therapist, we help you develop your skills so that you can participate in all of the daily activities (occupations) that you want/need to with as much independence as possible.

At SunnyDays Therapy, we focus on the area of pediatrics. This spans from infants to young adults. A child engages in many occupations throughout the day. A couple of examples include getting dressed, handwriting, planning and completing tasks, feeding/eating, and the most important....play! As an occupational therapist, we break down a certain activity and look at all the skills needed to complete that specific activity. For example, if a child is struggling to get dressed, an occupational therapist looks at why this task may be difficult for them. Is it because they are unable to balance long enough to put their legs into the pants, are they unable to figure out how to put their arms in the holes of a shirt, can they grasp socks tight enough to put them on, can they sequence the task of dressing? Once our therapists determine the underlying cause(s), they then brainstorm with the family to come up with intervention strategies that will work best for the child. We then have the child participate in various activities to address the areas they are having difficulty with until they develop the skills needed to complete the task on their own or have reached their goals. Our therapists work to adapt the environment or the activity to meet the child’s needs to provide a just-right challenge.

Pediatric occupational therapists often incorporate play into their practice as this is an imperative skill for a child and it is motivating for children (It's the most fun for us too!). At SunnyDays Therapy we are known for thinking “outside of the box” and finding creative ways to engage a child in a task that may have historically been difficult for them. We love to play and we love kids, which is why we chose this field. Getting to play with kids everyday while helping them be the best that they can be is simply the best!

If you are unsure if occupational therapy is right for your child, talk to you pediatrician, pediatric therapy specialist, or call us at 952-223-2506.