Is occupational therapy merely play? Are THERAPY ACTIVITIES at HOME tantamount to occupational therapy sessions? To get a clear-cut answer, we need to gain a deeper understanding of OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY and how this can help children with learning and developmental disabilities.
What is Occupational Therapy?
Occupational therapy is a client-centered health profession concerned with promoting health and well-being through occupation. The primary goal of occupational therapy is to enable people to participate in the activities of everyday life. Occupational therapists achieve this outcome by working with people and communities to enhance their ability to engage in the occupations they want, need to, or are expected to do, or modify the occupation or environment to better support their occupational engagement. (WFOT 2012)
OCCUPATIONAL THERAPISTS plan, adapt, and implement meaningful and developmentally appropriate activities that can target the skills that need to be developed by using playful and engaging activities.
Some conditions that OCCUPATIONAL THERAPISTS can treat are:
- Sensory processing disorders
- Learning Disabilities
- Mental health or behavioral problems
- Global Developmental Delay
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
- Cerebral Palsy
- Down Syndrome
Why Does Therapy Sessions Not Equate to Therapy-Like Activities at Home?
Careful planning is the pillar of an effective treatment plan. This treatment plan is based on the occupational needs of a child identified during the assessment process. Occupational therapists carry out several steps to devise an intervention plan geared towards the optimal progress of a child.
- INFORMATION GATHERING
- INITIAL ASSESSMENT
- COLLATING ASSESSMENT FINDINGS
- SETTING OF GOALS
- ACTION PLANNING
- EXECUTION OF INTERVENTION PLAN
- ONGOING ASSESSMENT AND REVISION OF INTERVENTION PLAN
Home activities that are approved and recommended by your child’s OT supplements the therapy. Parents should work hand in hand with the OT to ensure that they’re both building the essential skills for the child. Below are some of the most popular toys used in therapy sessions:
- BUBBLES - Bubbles are very common plaything among children. Can you imagine the glow in their eyes when they see bubbles but in the THERAPY ROOM, it is used as a tool to practice: turn-taking (teacher can blow first then the kid can do it next), improve hand-eye coordination, oral motor skill building, facilitate simple words like “wow”, “please”, “want” or “more”. It can also be used to get the child’s attention and to facilitate eye-contact.
- STUFFED ANIMALS - Who doesn’t love stuffed toys? These lovable toys are used to introduce new words like cuddly, fuzzy, furry, or soft. They are instruments in teaching parts of the body. They can give proprioceptive input and calming benefits to boot.
- TRAMPOLINES - Kids and adults love bouncing on a trampoline, but this plaything has a vital role in the THERAPY ROOM. It is used as a tool for vestibular and proprioceptive input, balance, coordination, and body awareness.
We encourage parents to take an active role in their children's occupational therapy journey. But remember that doing therapy-like activities doesn't mean the child is getting occupational therapy.
Folio, MR & Fewell, RR (1983) Peabody Developmental Motor Scales. Austin, TX: PROED
Frost, J et al. (2007) Overhead Equipment Use: The Developmental Benefits and Use Patterns of Overhead Equipment on Playgrounds. PlayCore. Retrieved from the web on 5/14/16 at