What is Occupational Therapy?

To understand the practice of occupational therapy, it is important to understand the definition of occupation. Occupations are “activities people of all ages need and want to do-things like making meals, dressing, managing medications, driving, going to school or work, playing or caring for family members” (AOTA, 2014). An occupational therapist helps people “participate in their desired occupation with the therapeutic use of everyday activities, based on the clients personal interests and needs” (AOTA, 2014). Occupational therapy considers the whole person, their activities and their environment in which those activities take place.

For children specifically, occupations are activities “that enable them to learn and develop life skills, be creative and/or derive enjoyment, and thrive as both a means and an end” (AOTA, 2014). Occupations children engage in are activities in preschool and school, play, self-care and relationships with others. Occupational therapy will help children gain independence in daily activities and roles while also improving fine/gross motor skills, sensory motor skills, executive functional skills and visual perception/processing skills.


More, Dottie Handley (MS, OTR/L), and Early Intervention & School Special Interest Section Standing Committee for the American Occupational Therapy Association. “Occupational Therapy’s Role with Children and Youth.” Aota.org, 2022, www.aota.org/~/media/Corporate/Files/AboutOT/Professionals/WhatIsOT/CY/Fact-Sheets/Children%20and%20Youth%20fact%20sheet.ashx.

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