[infobox title=’Editor’s Note’]The month of April is designated as Occupational Therapy Month by the American Occupational Therapy Association to call attention to the important role occupational therapists play in patient care. We asked our OT Adam to answer ‘What is Occupational Therapy?”[/infobox]
I have been asked this question literally hundreds of times over the past 8 years.
This may be:
– Helping a child with attention difficulties to stay focused in class,
– Working with the family of a toddler to ensure development is supported at home, nursery as well as in the clinic,
– Developing motor skills for a child with Dyspraxia to help them participate in the team sport all their friends are playing,
– Supporting a young adult to integrate into the world of work. To find not only a job for a day but a career for a lifetime.
– Providing sensory strategies for a child with Autism to make the world a less overwhelming and make their day to day life a little more manageable.
– Helping someone recover their personal independence and dignity following a major stroke
– Providing adaptive equipment and technology to help a person with a physical disability dress themselves, prepare food, access their community and many other essential activities of daily living.
These and a thousand other small victories are why I love my job. By helping people to do the things they want and need to do Occupational Therapy can have a lasting impact on quality of life.
Our focus is on Occupation, we use the term to describe all the things we do to manage our personal care, socialize, learn, work, have fun and contribute to the society in which we live. We have an in-depth understanding of how illness, disability, or challenging life events can affect a person’s ability to do the things that are important to them. We work with our patients to identify and prioritise goals, plan their therapeutic journey and overcome these challenges in order to live the life they want.
Occupational Therapists, or OTs, focus on the persons strengths and place the patient (and their family when working with children) at the centre of the therapy process. OTs collaborate closely with families, teachers and other professionals to ensure a solid structure of support for the patient. Each therapeutic process is unique and each plan of care is tailored to meet the specific, individual needs of that patient in order to help them to live their lives in a way that is meaningful and satisfying to them.
So, considering all this, once again I consider the questions “What is Occupational Therapy?”
For me it can be described in one short sentence Skills for the Job of Living!
Happy occupational therapy awareness month.