James Madison University

What is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational therapy (OT) is the art and science of using “occupation”, everyday activities that are meaningful to an individual, to help people of all ages develop, improve, maintain and/or restore the skills needed to successfully engage in their daily lives.

Since a child’s primary occupation is PLAY, it is often through play that OTs help children develop and learn. Areas often addressed by pediatric OTs include:

  • Self-care skills (feeding, bathing, dressing)
  • Motor skills (hand skills, gross motor coordination)
  • Sensory integration
  • Social and play skills

The therapeutic environment is designed to promote playful engagement of the child, while the OT is actually drawing upon extensive training to provide challenging therapeutic activities aimed at developing greater capabilities and skill levels. OT enhances development and helps build skills, self-confidence, and self-esteem.