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© 2009-12 Hopscotch Children's Therapy Centre | Designed by minimoko

Practical guide for early signs of sensory processing disorder in children. more...

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What is Occupational Therapy?

"Occupation is as necessary to life as food and drink"

(Dunton, 1919)

In April 1979 the Representative Assembly in Detroit, USA, adopted the "Philosophical Base of Occupational Therapy" and provided a foundation of the theory and practice of Occupational Therapy by stating that:

"Man is an active being whose development is influenced by the use of purposeful activity. Using their capacity for intrinsic motivation, human beings are able to influence their physical and mental health.

Occupational Therapy is based on the belief that purposeful activity may be used to prevent and mediate dysfunction and to elicit maximum adaptation. Activity as used by the occupational therapist includes both an intrinsic and a therapeutic purpose"

(Resolution 532-79, 1979)

The World Federation of Occupational Therapy (WFOT) defines occupational therapy as:

"A healthcare profession based on the knowledge that purposeful activity can promote health and well-being in all aspects of daily life. The aims are to promote, develop, restore, and maintain abilities needed to cope with daily activities to prevent dysfunction"

 

An Overview of Occupational Therapy with Children

Occupational therapists view the child, the child's environment, and the interaction between the child and the environment in a holistic way. The dynamic nature of this interaction is created by the child's continual development, maturation and learning. The environment is also continually evolving and changing.

The spirit, the playfulness, and the joy of childhood create the context for occupational therapy with children.

 

Occupational Therapy Domains of Concern

The occupational therapist is concerned with analyzing the child's ability to perform in everyday contexts. Occupational therapists hold two broad goals for the children they serve. These goals are to improve the child's functional performance and to enhance the child's ability to interact within his or her physical and social environments.

The first goal, that of improving the child's functional performance, is approached with a unique perspective in which performance is analysed into components of the underlying ability and skill.

The second goal of occupational therapy is to improve the reciprocal relationships between the child and the environment. Based on the premise that the child and the environment are dynamic, the occupational therapist may emphasise development of underlying skills, facilitation of functional performance in everyday activities, or adaptation of the environment to enable the child to achieve desired and expected social roles.

 

Underlying Skills

The underlying skills that an occupational therapist is concerned with are:

Sensorimotor components include sensory and perceptual processing, neuromuscular abilities, and motor skills  
Motor components refer to gross, fine and oral motor skills  
Cognitive components underlie the child's ability to perceive, attend, and learn from the environment  
Psychosocial skills refer to the child's underlying abilities to interact with others, to cope with new or difficult situations, and to manage his or
her behaviours in socially appropriate ways.

 

Performance Areas

The performance areas that the occupational therapist is concerned with are:

Self-care: refers to physical daily living skills. These include feeding and eating, grooming and hygiene, dressing, and functional mobility
Play and leisure: refer to skills and performance of intrinsically motivating activities, spontaneous enjoyment, and self-expression
School: skills in this area refer to reading, writing, math, and higher level problem solving and cognitive skills.

Sources: Case-Smith 1996; Hopkins & Smith, 1993; & Christiansen, 1991

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