What is a pediatric occupational therapist (OT)?
Occupational therapy is concerned with promoting independence in activities of everyday life – or ‘occupations.’ Children’s occupations include: reaching developmental milestones, play, self-care (eating, sleeping, dressing, grooming, bathing), academic tasks (handwriting, fine motor skills, attention/focus), and socializing.
Pediatric occupational therapists evaluate a Child’s Strengths & Weaknesses
Pediatric occupational therapy evaluates a child’s strengths, as well as difficulties, in critical developmental areas and design interventions that promote the healthy development of skills needed for success with daily activities (occupations). They evaluate the environment, muscle functioning, positioning, coordination, and other areas when determining the cause of decreased skill. Once the cause is identified, the therapist works on these underlying areas of need so that they improve the foundational skills, not just a “splinter” skill or a skill that is beneficial at this time and may not be beneficial in the future.
It’s About Skills & Development
Having a solid foundation of skills allows for the development of self-confidence. Developing a skill and using it successfully encourages children to continually try new activities that expand their skills and build success, and being successful is the foundation for continued learning. Through meaningful activities and play, pediatric occupational therapy facilitates the development of age-appropriate skills and instills this confidence in children to help them play, learn, and grow. When skill and strength cannot be developed or improved, occupational therapy offers creative solutions and alternatives for carrying out daily activities. Pediatric OTs work on childrens’ gross motor skills, visual motor skills, play skills, social skills, basic tasks and sometimes help with language skills and school skills. Many people reach out to occupational therapists for educational purposes and even to work on life skills. Some children receive care for challenges with motor planning, children with developmental delays and chronic illness, birth injuries and kids having challenges with school performance. Sometimes specialized equipment is utilized, and other times no equipment is needed at all.
Pediatric Occupational Therapy Helps With
Pediatric OTs work with babies, very young children, and school-aged kids, and young adults in collaboration with the child’s family, teachers, and other health professionals, in a clinic setting, and within the child’s home or school community, as well as in hospitals as needed. It helps kids with developmental delay and other chronic illnesses.
What education does an OT have?
A master’s degree is required to become an OT. Many OTs earn an associate’s degree or undergraduate degree in a related field, like biology or physiology, before advancing to a master’s program, or they can apply for a combined bachelor’s/master’s program.
Toronto Local Health Integrated Network (LHIN)
Individuals can self-refer for therapy in the home, school, or community. This care is funded by OHIP.
Pediatric Physiotherapy Associates
Provides excellent physical and occupational therapy in the home or virtually.
Toronto Early Childhood and Family Resource System
There is a wide range of services for children in Toronto compiled on this website.