Occupational therapy or OT does not, as the name might suggest, relate to work and occupation. It is a valuable form of therapy that can have far-reaching effects on how children cope with the challenges that life throws at them.
What OT is
The Occupational Therapy Association of South Africa (OTASA) defines occupational therapy as follows: (Occupational therapy) uses scientifically chosen meaningful activities to assist diverse clients with a range of problems to maximise their functioning. This empowers them to be as independent as possible and to experience dignity and quality of work, at home and at play.
According to the World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT) the primary goal with OT is to enable people to participate successfully in the activities of everyday life. This is achieved by enabling people to do things that will enhance their ability to live meaningful lives, or by modifying the environment of the client to better support participation.
Simply put, occupational therapy aims to make people more independent.
How OT can help children
In children, OT can be very helpful in improving children's physical, cognitive and motor skills and in enhancing their self-esteem and sense of achievement.
The occupational therapist evaluates the child's skills through school performance, playing and daily activities to judge whether his or her development is appropriate for the child's age group or specific needs. If not, the OT designs activities to improve these skills or evaluate the need for specialised equipment.
Medical conditions in children that could benefit from OT include:
World Occupational Therapy Day
The World Federation of Occupational Therapists, who marks its 60th year in 2012, celebrates World Occupational Therapy Day annually on 27 October to heighten awareness of the profession and its development work.