The World Federation of Occupational Therapy celebrates World Occupational Therapy Day on October 27. So, what exactly is occupational therapy? Many of us think of an occupation as someone’s job or career, but in occupational therapy, we work on improving performance of the job of living. The eight occupations that OTs address include:
- Activities of daily living (ADLs)
- Social participation
- Sleep and rest
- Instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs).
The main occupations for children and adolescents include ADLs, IADLs, play, education, and social participation. ADLs include feeding, dressing, toileting, and grooming. IADLs can include care of pets, communication management, driving and community mobility, financial management, health management and maintenance, home establishment and maintenance, meal preparation and cleanup, safety and emergency maintenance, and shopping.
With younger children, OTs will often look to see if they’re meeting developmental milestones related to motor skills and other body systems that are required to perform occupations. Is a the child able to sit up on her own so that she can play with a toy with both hands? We also look at how a child modulates sensory input. Does the child refuse to get dressed because he feels that the texture of the clothing is too rough? As children get older, performance in school becomes an important focus. How does their handwriting look? Are they able to copy from the board? Do they have difficulty transitioning between classes?
Along with education, IADLs become more important when approaching adulthood. These may include using basic kitchen appliances, doing laundry, money management, or grocery shopping. These activities often mimic typical “chores” that are common in the pre-teen and teenage years and foster development towards more independent adult life. While some may always need supervision when completing these tasks, working on improving performance of these skills can promote increased participation in family life and improved self-esteem.
Everyone has different priorities for which occupations are most important in life. If you feel like your child is having difficulty with any of his or her daily occupations, please contact Live Oak to schedule an occupational therapy evaluation.