Children’s Occupations? Children don’t need jobs! Children just play surely?
Have you heard of children’s occupational therapy?
Children’s occupational therapists look, specifically at the occupations of children.
How can children have occupations?
We all have jobs to do in our lives, activities that we find meaningful and give us purpose, well children are no different.
So what do children actually do?
A child’s main occupation is PLAY!
Some people might say a child’s main “job” is to go to school but actually it is to play! Through play children learn and develop all sorts of skills they need to become healthy young people. School comes a little later and again through play.
As children develop their occupations develop too and we expect them to be able to start being able to go to the toilet on their own, dressing themselves, washing themselves, and then move onto learning new skills at school such as writing, drawing and numbers.
When children are unable to take part in their occupations due to illness, disability or a developmental condition, occupational therapists step in to look at how they can help to get the child back on track.
Patrick is just a normal 6 year old boy, except he cannot seem to concentrate in class. His handwriting is very messy and he often fidgets and gets told off by the teacher, this is making Patrick feel very sad. His mum asked an occupational therapist to see Patrick for an assessment. The occupational therapist looked at the classroom, Patrick’s chair and desk. She checked that Patrick doesn’t have any other difficulties with how his hands and eyes work together and that he has the skills to sit up and pay attention to tasks.
After some individual help from the occupational therapist with his handwriting, a special cushion and some ideas to help Patrick concentrate in the classroom Patrick now doesn’t get into trouble any more. His teacher knows how best to help him achieve in the classroom and Patrick is a much happier little boy.
Sophie is a 7-year-old girl who has cerebral palsy. Sophie cannot walk or move her body how she would like and she struggles to speak. She attends a special school. Sophie met the occupational therapist and worked with her using a communication aid. By using her eyes and a special computer Sophie learned to communicate! With the help of the OT Sophie also used a special powered wheelchair that she controlled with small movements of her body.
James is 4 years old. James has autism and gets very upset if he is in a place that is too noisy or crowded. James likes his day to be in a strict and predictable routine and will have a melt-down if things don’t go the way he wants. James saw an occupational therapist with his parents. The occupational therapist specialised in autism and sensory processing disorders. She created a sensory diet, a list of activities that James can do throughout the day to help him cope with the stresses of the world around him and regulate how he behaves. She helped educate James’ parents about how best to help him through a melt down and cope with little changes to his daily routine. Autism is part of James’ life, and will never go away but James can now cope with the world around him much better than before