The term “occupation” means any of the essential activities or things that a person does, that are necessary to his/her well-being, and meaningful to his/her life.
For children and adults with developmental disabilities, some of the more important and meaningful “occupations” that are essential to their daily lives include:
– Self-care (dressing, eating, using cutlery, grooming, walking)
– Personal hygiene (bathing, brushing teeth, toileting)
– Attending to class tasks, social groups, playing games, and completing homework
– Leisure activities such as walking, swimming, sports, and social activities
– General mobility (such as walking up and down stairs,
When a person is unable to perform these occupations due to a disability or developmental challenge, occupational therapists assess the barriers in three domains:
1. ABILITY and development (physical, mental, neurological, social, etc)
2. ENVIRONMENT / context (physical, social, culture) in which the tasks occur; and
3. NATURE of the occupation/activity (procedure, tool required)
Occupational therapy (OT) helps an individual achieve independence and enables him/her to fulfill these various roles and tasks in life, while helping to improve their well-being and overall life satisfaction. Examples of OT solutions and strategies may include:
– Designing an exercise program to help a child learn how to perform a particular task, by teaching the motor planning (knowing how to do it),and providing training exercises to improve the coordination and body awareness for that particular task or function. From simply holding a pencil to write or color, or using cutlery, to very complex motor tasks such as running, dancing, and bike riding.
– Developing a routine/procedure/sequence for a particular task that empowers and enables an individual to accomplish a task previously too difficult for them. This requires integrating the current developmental challenges, tailoring plans and tools to the actual environments where the tasks will be performed, and enlisting others in teaching towards generalization… with independent performance of the task being the goal.
– Suggesting modifications to classroom and home settings to improve attention, participation, and full mobility. Such recommendations may also include assistive devices to promote functions (pencil grips, sensory equipment, support and learning devices such as iPad, etc.)
Pivot Point’s Occupational Therapists typically work as part of our multi-disciplinary team in a CONSULTATION manner. This means that OT’s are usually given a small number of hours in which they must conduct their assessments, draft assessment reports, make recommendations for ongoing treatments, support the purchasing of augmentative and training tools (OT related program supplies), liaise with family and other team members to ensure that everyone understands the OT treatment vision, plan, and how to use the tools and protocols. Pivot Point OT’s are also able to provide these same services in a “stand alone” or “OT Only” manner, where no other Pivot Point services are involved.
However, to optimize treament effectiveness, Pivot Point’s Occupational Therapists usually work closely with Pivot Point’s Occupational Therapy ASSISTANTS (OTA’s), who are OT and PT paraprofessionals who have training and experience in the OT/PT field AND in the field ABA and of clinical conditions usually first diagnosed in Childhood. These Occupational Therapy Assistants (OTA’s) significantly expand the effectiveness of the Occupational Therapy program, because OTA’s are able to work many more hours each week with a client than typically possible directly from the OT alone. Furthermore, OTA’s are better able to integrate the OT treatment plan into other treatment plans (such as behavioural and teaching plans from a Behaviour Consultant, or Speech and Language treatment plans from an SLP), thereby providing a more comprehensive overall training program.