The definition of occupation in occupational therapy is a holistic term meaning, that which occupies one’s time in a meaningful manner. For babies and young children it centers on playing, feeding, self-care skills such as dressing, and often handwriting.
It is deeply connected to relationships, as difficulty with these central “occupations” impact bonding, a family’s ability to run enjoyably and smoothly, and social connections outside the family with peers and adults. For example, being able to get the family out the door to school is partially dependent on a child’s ability and motivation to get dressed, or being able to eat as a family in a restaurant is dependent on the child’s ability to tolerate loud noises and food that is different than at home. The modalities OTs use often center on learning about, teaching and experiencing how to modulate a child’s senses and how they impact attention, balance, motivation, vision, coordination, acceptance of food, motor planning, time use, processing, relationships and more.
There is a lot of overlap with physical therapy, speech therapy and psychology in occupational therapy. Some children have needs that span several disciplines and we at Carolina Kinder Development pride ourselves on working closely together such that the child and family have optimal benefit and thorough resolution within the shortest timeframe.
Here are some typical reasons that there is a need for occupational therapy:
- Delays in gross and fine motor skills – think rolling and crawling and toy use for a baby; think handwriting and dressing for young children
- Feeding issues relates to oral motor skills and/or the textural, olfactory factors of food
- Help developing visual motor skills – tracking an object, hand-eye coordination
- Problem-solving skills, auditory processing, memory, and attention
- Children with sensory integration issues
- Delays in play and social interaction skills
So in this month, reach out to an occupational therapist who have maybe helped you or your child and say thanks. At Carolina Kinder Development, we have top-caliber, highly specialized occupational therapists devoted to infants through early years. We also have physical therapists and a speech therapist so that families may have a one-stop shop for therapy. Our thanks to Susan (missing from photo), Kelsey, Maria and Michelle during Occupational Therapy Month!