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Occupational therapy (OT) is a science-driven, evidence-based profession that focuses on helping people achieve independence in all areas of their lives. A child's occupation, or job, is to grow, learn, go to school, do homework and play. OT helps children enrich their physical, sensory, and cognitive skills so they can carry out their occupation. OT can help children with everything from brushing their teeth, tying their shoes, and coordinating and improving their motor skills, to developing handwriting and learning strategies that help them remain focused in class, complete assignments, and interact with their peers.
The goal of OT is to help children acquire or improve the skills needed to perform the activities or occupations of daily life. Occupational therapists are master's level healthcare professionals who implement science-driven, evidence-based holistic treatment approaches that take into account psychological, social, and environmental factors that may be impacting functioning. OT is an extremely broad field, but in the pediatric practice area, OT addresses fine and gross motor skills, activities of daily living (dressing, toilet training, feeding, etc.), pragmatic skills, visual-perceptual skills, visual motor skills, and sensory processing skills.
An occupational therapist evaluates a child's skills for play activities, school performance, and activities of daily living and compares them with what is developmentally appropriate for the child's age group. Therapists also use informal task evaluations to help isolate areas of concern. Based on these findings, an individualized treatment plan is designed and implemented through therapy sessions, home exercise programs, and parent/care taker education.
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