What is Occupational Therapy (OT)?

Updated: Aug 13





Occupational therapy is a healthcare field that supports individuals of all ages in performing activities they want or need to do when their function has been impacted by disability or disease.


Many occupational therapists specialize in working with kids. People often ask, “How do occupational therapists work with kids? They don’t have jobs!” Well, kids actually DO have jobs. Childhood occupations include areas such as sleep, play, learning, education, activities of daily living (dressing, eating, bathing, etc.) and social participation! You may find a pediatric occupational therapist in settings including hospitals and medical units, schools, and outpatient clinics (just to name a few!).


Occupational therapists help children develop the skills required for essential daily activities by:

  • Developing skills for essential daily activities

  • Establishing/restoring skills and abilities following an injury or disability

  • Maintaining and preserving performance capacities

  • Modifying the environment or context to meet a child’s current needs

  • Preventing disabilities

A child may benefit from occupational therapy services if they have:

  • Delays in meeting developmental motor milestones (including rolling, sitting, walking, etc.)

  • Difficulty eating and feeding

  • Poor sleep and regulation

  • Difficulty with hand eye coordination that can affect ball skills and handwriting

  • Poor fine motor skills (such as holding a pencil, using scissors, stringing beads, playing Legos)

  • Poor gross motor skills (jumping, climbing, kicking, etc.)

  • Poor sensory integration (vestibular, proprioception, tactile, vision, auditory, smell, taste)

  • Difficulties with social interactions

  • Difficulties with basic self-care skills (dressing, bathing, teeth brushing, etc.)

  • Poor attention, problem solving skills, memory

It is NEVER too early to seek help if you have concerns about your child!




This information was generously provided by Katie Oien.


Katie Oien is an occupational therapist certified by the National Board of Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) and the state of California. She specializes in working with children with various neurodevelopmental and physical disorders and has experience in settings including early intervention, private practice, school-based settings, and medical therapy units. She is SIPT certified and has advanced training in sensory integration, reflex integration, neurodevelopmental treatment, feeding, and physical agent modalities. She earned her master’s degree in occupational therapy from Loma Linda University and is currently pursuing her doctorate in occupational therapy with a specialty in neuroscience from Thomas Jefferson University.








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