Occupational Therapy: Living Life To Its Fullest™

Courtesy of Black Bear Academy

April is occupational therapy awareness month! It is important to know the meaning behind what OT’s do and how they promote your child’s daily sense of success. Occupational therapists work with individuals to promote engagement in meaningful everyday life activities (occupations) for the purpose of successful participation in roles and situations in home, school, work place, and community.  Not only is it important to educate parents, therapists, and other disciplines on the importance of engaging in purposeful activities (i.e. occupations), it is extremely beneficial to educate your child.

It is an important aspect of an OT treatment plan to encourage kids to set goals for themselves to increase their motivation to work hard during sessions and by the end feel a sense of accomplishment. Therefore this process starts with them understanding what daily activities are and which ones make them happy to be themselves!  Here is a list of activities you can do with your child to highlight the daily tasks you and your child engage in to make your lives meaningful!

  • Collage: Capture your child engaging in meaningful occupations such as dressing, playing with friends, reading a book, doing homework, etc. Print out the pictures and make a collage with your child. Discuss what your child is doing in each photo, how they might feel, and what the outcome of engaging in that activity might be (i.e. learning, independence, having fun, etc.). Hang it in their room as a reminder.
  • Mommy and Daddy’s Little Helper: Encourage your child to begin to participate in activities of daily living including dressing, bathing, self-care, toileting, sleeping routine; and instrumental activities of daily living including folding laundry, loading the dishwasher, taking out the trash, carrying in the groceries, shoveling the snow, etc.  This will not only make your life easier but it teaches them responsibility and management of materials which are essential to live a successful and happy life! The earlier they participate, the better.
  • Pie Chart: Run through your child’s day, listing all the activities they do and how much time they spend on each activity. Group the like activities into categories such as: sleeping, eating, free time, school, time with friends, family time, self- care, tv/electronics etc. Make a pie graph to provide a visual of how much time they spend on each activity.  Which activities do they want to spend the most time in? Which activities do they spend more time in then they thought? Make some goals to improve how they spend their time every day to do more activities that makes them feel good.
  • Let’s Draw: Have your child draw a picture of something they do every day that makes them happy to be themselves! Look at their pie chart for ideas!
  • Sequence: Select one daily task that might be more difficult for your child (i.e. brushing teeth, putting on their coat, bedtime, etc.). Break down the activity into steps to make the task more achievable.  Print a picture of each step and place the sequence in the visual view of the child while they are completing the task (i.e. on the bathroom mirror, by the down, in their room, etc.).  Review the steps prior to completing the task and as they complete each step, provide positive praise! “You did the first two steps, now only 2 more to go! You can do this! Next step is….” The visuals will allow them to be more independent and feel more successful!

Pediatric occupational therapists work with children to increase their participation and independence in academic and functional daily childhood occupations in order for them to reach their fullest potential.  This process starts with an understanding of what daily activities are important to them and what makes them and their family happy.  When we are able to understand this, we will be able to help the child feel more competent and confident to accomplish their goals and enjoy new experiences with their new found independence.

Please contact Sara Vivoda, MOT, OTR/L, at svivoda@blackbearacadmey.com if you have any questions!

For more information on Occupational Therapy  www.aota.org

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