What is Occupational Therapy?
Occupational therapy (OT) is a treatment for problems with movement and coordination. It helps people improve the motor skills involved in everyday tasks, like writing and getting dressed.
These skills include fine and gross motor skills and motor planning. Therapists also work on coordination, balance, and self-regulation skills.
Kids can get OT for free at school. But adults have to find a therapist who works privately. (Doctors can often recommend private occupational therapists). Insurance may or may not cover OT.
The need for OT can come up at any age and for a wide range of reasons. But there are lifelong conditions that impact motor skills starting in early childhood. One of them is developmental coordination disorder (DCD).
While adults with DCD may benefit from OT, it’s most effective with kids. And the earlier OT starts, the better.
How does OT work?
OT is tailored for each person’s needs. Therapists start by looking at strengths and challenges. Then they create a program of exercises and activities that focus on the motor skills that need improving. For example, activities to build fine motor skills might include picking things up with tweezers. Exercises to improve gross motor skills might include jumping jacks or running an obstacle course.
For someone who struggles with motor planning, therapists might work on daily routines like getting dressed. They help people learn the initial steps and the sequence of tasks that follow.
Many kids who need OT get it for free at school. This service is usually part of a special education plan. OT can happen one-on-one or in small groups.
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