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  • Carly Charbonneau, BSc, MSc(OT), OT Reg. (Ont.)

What is an Occupational Therapist (OT)? How can an OT help my child?

The primary role of an Occupational Therapist is to enable individuals to engage in their meaningful everyday occupations. The term “occupation” refers to any activity that one wants, needs, or is expected to do.


Children learn and thrive through participation in occupations such as play, education, and self-care.

· Play: a child’s main occupation and an essential part of every child’s life. Engaging in play provides the opportunity for learning and practicing new skills. Play helps a child to develop socially, increase their self-awareness and self-esteem.

· Education: having the cognitive and social skills to learn provides a child with the foundation for lifelong learning.

· Self-Care: learning to wash, dress, eat, and toilet on their own are occupations which provide children with a sense of skill achievement and independence.


Some children experience difficulties with these meaningful activities for various reasons including reduced fine and gross motor coordination, core stability, difficulty with visual perception, cognition, emotional regulation and sensory integration.



5 possible reasons to seek an OT consultation:

· Difficulty with fine motor skills: tasks requiring coordination of the small muscles in the hands (e.g. construction skills, scissor skills, handwriting, opening containers, tying shoelaces, managing clothes fasteners)

· Challenges with gross motor skills: tasks requiring coordination of large muscles in the body (e.g. climbing, running, catching/kicking balls, recreational sports)

· Issues with sensory processing: difficulty organizing information received through the senses (i.e. sounds, smells, tastes, textures, sights); children with sensory processing issues may experience over sensitivity or under sensitivity which can impact their emotional regulation and participation in activities

· Difficulty completing activities of daily living (i.e. dressing, toileting, bathing, eating)

· Issues with cognition: difficulty with memory, concentration, attention, decision-making, problem solving



If you have concerns regarding your child’s abilities related to play, self-care, and education, an initial session with an OT will help assess and identify your child’s individual needs. Following assessment, a collaborative intervention plan can be used to support your child in acquiring the skills they need to be independent and participate in their meaningful occupations.


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