Occupational therapists (OTs) work with children to develop, improve, or restore their abilities and functions. OTs are highly trained in selecting and adjusting specific interventions to promote the development of individual skills for self-care, socialization, play and learning. Two common settings for occupational therapists to work with children are: early intervention and the school system.
Occupational therapists work in the early intervention setting. Early intervention is funded by federal, state and local dollars and is provided to children ages birth to three years of age. It is aimed at children with disabilities, developmental delays, or children who are at risk for developing disabilities. OTs work to improve gross motor (running, jumping, walking, balancing, etc.), cognition, sensory processing, communication, social skills, fine motor skills (holding and writing with a pencil, grasping small objects, fastening clothing, etc.), self-care, feeding, and play skills. They also help the families of the child understand and meet the needs of their child. Early intervention occurs in the "natural environment" of the child, which can include the home, daycare or the playground. In order to receive early intervention services a child must be evaluated and deemed eligible or must have a specific diagnosis. An individualized family service plan (IFSP) is created with the family and other health professionals to determine what services the child will receive and what priorities and goals the family has for their child.
Occupational therapists also work in the school system and are part of the education team. This team includes, but is not limited to: the student, parents, educators, school support staff, paraeducators, and administrators. In the school setting, occupational therapists help children prepare for and perform important learning and school-related activities and to fulfill their role as students. In this setting, occupational therapists support academic and non-academic outcomes, including social skills, math reading and writing (i.e. literacy), behavior management, recess, participation in sports, self-help skills, pre-vocational/vocational participation, and more, for children and students with disabilities, 3 to 21 years of age.
Occupational therapists know how to:
|Information on this page retrieved from American Occupational Therapy Association.|