Why don’t you brew some tea while we explain a question that has crossed all of our minds… What is OT? As we know, there is no simple definition to “What is Occupational Therapy?” So, we have asked our fabulous OT’s what Occupational Therapy means to them:
“I first really started thinking about OT as a career when I worked as a caregiver for adults with intellectual disabilities. I had a client who had poor manual dexterity and had difficulty putting his own shoes on and tying the laces. When someone modified the task for him by getting him loafers, he was able to be more independent and he was so proud of himself. In the first week of having those new shoes, he showed me countless times how he could put on his own shoes. I knew I wanted to help provide that kind of joy and independence to people for a living. To me, OT is all about finding those strategies that help our patients be more independent in whatever it is that is meaningful to them. In our pediatric patients, this may include promoting emotional regulation skills or increased fine motor skills foundational to writing and dressing. In our adults, this may mean creating compensatory scheduling strategies after brain injury or pain management strategies after an orthopedic injury so a patient can golf without pain. Whatever it is I’m trying to help my patients accomplish, I love being with them on the journey!”
“When I was in Second Grade, I was flagged for being behind in reading. My parents couldn’t understand because at home I was always asking for books and spouting off as much animal knowledge as I could. I was evaluated at school and was diagnosed with dyslexia. An OT trained a Paraprofessional to sit with me and help me learn strategies that I still use today. Time passed and I forgot all about that time I spent practicing in school because the strategies had just become my habits. When I started working at the YMCA during the summers, I noticed that there were kids who had the same difficulties I had going through school; we didn’t always see the world the same way as everyone else, but we could still play and develop strong friendships! My college advisor immediately recommended OT when I told her about my most cherished experiences and wanting to make every day meaningful for people. I get to see patients from birth into their 90s and I love every stage of life! Whether it is playing, writing, how we are able to handle stress or being able to dress yourself, everything that makes you you is Occupational Therapy!”
Occupational Therapy can be defined as helping individuals overcome challenges to participate in their everyday activities to the fullest. For me, this means helping patients return to the things they love the most. It also means helping patients engage in the activities they need to complete in order to be successful and independent. Working as a Pediatric Occupational Therapist, Occupational Therapy means working together with patients to engage in tasks such as writing, coloring, dressing, jumping, playing games and so much more to be able to fully participate in school as well as socially with family and peers. For children, these activities, such as dressing, writing, and playing, are essential for school participation and social participation in their role as a student, friend, or family member. Overall, Occupational Therapy means to me helping individuals achieve their maximum potential in roles to engage in their most important activities each and every day.
To me, Occupational Therapy means integrating everyday tasks and activities into therapy to help individuals become more independent and successful in their daily pursuits they value and find meaningful. It means collaborating with individuals in how to adapt or modify their environments, activities, self care tasks, and skill sets to better participate in the things that are important to them and reach their personal goals.