The month of April is Occupational Therapy Month! Throughout my career people have asked me, “What is Occupational Therapy, I already have a job”. When I am asked this question, I get excited to share what I do and love. Occupational Therapists enable people of all ages to live their lives to the fullest by helping them promote health, and prevent and/or live better with injury, illness, or disability. As a pediatric OT, my area of focus is infants all the way to young adults.
The skills and activities included in pediatric OT focus on Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) or Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs). ADLs are activities we do on a daily basis that are necessary for us to function. An example of this would be bathing, dressing, eating, achieving developmental milestones, and sleeping. IADLs are activities that are more complex than self-care. An example of these activities include caring for pets, making a bed, completing chores, and learning to prepare a meal.
Infants and toddlers have different ADLs and IADLs compared to school aged children or a young adults. For this particular group their occupation or ADL is to develop skills needed for the next developmental stage. As an OT, I help babies with a variety of needs. Some of them have disabilities that are either physical or developmental, or babies who just need a little extra time to gain skills. The things I work on with babies and toddlers include: lots of playing, sitting, crawling, walking, socializing, sensory integration, fine motor- picking up things with fingers, and gross motor- rolling and walking.
Therapists have to change their therapeutic activities once the child is in school to accommodate for the growth and the advancement of the child. The child’s ADLs and IADLs are no longer stepping stones to the next milestone. Often, the kids I see still have physical, developmental, and sensory integration needs that therapy addresses. During therapy, we continue to work on fine motor, gross motor, and sensory integration needs, but we also include: handwriting, executive functioning (decision making and thinking), toilet training, imaginary play, eating a variety of foods, coordination, and being social with peers.
To help celebrate OT month, please choose some activities from the list below! All of the below activities focus on a child’s most important ADL/IADL which is PLAY!
A2 Therapy Works
Monthly tips, tricks, and activity ideas from our therapists!