When you hear or read the phrase "occupational therapy" what do you think of? If you're like most people, you assume occupational therapy is something designed to help adults who are somehow limited return to a place of stability and productivity within society. If so, you'd be correct. But did you know that occupational therapy is also for kids? It's true. In fact, occupational therapy is being recognized more and more as being a vital treatment in helping children suffering from a variety of physical, emotional, and mental issues prepare to take their place in society.
Occupational Therapy Basics
Occupational therapy is a process that takes patients who are unable to live independent lives and trains them to be either semi or fully-independent. Unlike a physical therapist, who tends to focus on specific issues of limited physical mobility, the occupational therapist can deal with physical, mental, and emotional issues. Sometimes he can deal with all three kinds of issues simultaneously. This makes occupational therapy extremely challenging, yet a career with potentially great reward.
Occupational therapy is one that benefits dozens of different kinds of children. Most notably it's used extensively among childhood cancer victims, those with permanent disabilities, children with attention and behavior problems, and so on. Because occupational therapy covers so many different areas, a good therapist must be able to think out of the box and use whatever resources are available to help the patient progress.
Examples of Occupational Therapy
One of the easiest examples to understand how occupational therapy is beneficial to children can be seen in a youngster with developmental disabilities. The child in this position may have difficulty with eye-hand coordination, making it difficult for his parents to teach him even the most basic of tasks. The occupational therapist will assess the child's abilities, strengths, and weaknesses, and develop a plan that will improve his eye-hand coordination and motor skills.
Another common use of the therapy among children is in helping sufferers of autism and its related disorders. Occupational therapy teaches the child how to channel his thoughts and emotions, how to deal with stress, and how to think through problems. An effective therapist can be life changing for the family of an autistic child. In addition, children diagnosed with ADHD and other similar disorders can equally benefit from occupational therapy.
One of the things many therapists love about their jobs is the opportunity to affect others' lives for good. Occupational therapy jobs are no different. The personal reward of helping individuals become independent is well worth the time and effort. Fortunately, the pay and benefits are very good as well.
If you're interested in a career in occupational therapy, you'll need to complete an accredited educational program, with a degree, and be licensed according to the regulations in the state where you'll be working. With all that in place you'll be able to start looking for occupational therapy jobs in hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, or even a private practice.