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What is Occupational Therapy?

We are excited to be offering Occupational Therapy services at Aurora Speech Clinic! You may have heard of Occupational Therapy (OT) before, or perhaps this is the first time you’re hearing about it. Whichever the case, the term “occupational” in its title, often leads to some confusion, especially as it pertains to kids! In this blog post, we will break down the role of an Occupational Therapist so you can understand exactly how OTs can make a difference.


Think about what you do on a daily basis. You brush your teeth, take a shower, get dressed, cook, go to school or work, eat, play a sport…the list goes on! These are your “occupations”, or your daily activities. Imagine if a health condition or impairment was impacting your ability to carry out these important day-to-day tasks. This is where OT comes in. For children, establishing independence in daily living skills, playing, socializing and being a student are important occupations. OT in a pediatric setting often takes a play-based approach to help children build developmental skills or learn alternative ways to accomplish everyday tasks so they can be as independent as possible.


Occupational therapists (OTs) are regulated health professionals who work with individuals to enable them to participate in the activities that they want or need to do on a daily basis. OTs treat individuals across the lifespan; their role is focused on enhancing an individual’s functioning in their daily activities, including self-care, leisure and productivity tasks. OTs are experts in assessing an individual and their skills, their environments, and meaningful activities to determine what is getting in the way; next, they help the individual overcome these challenges. OTs are committed to maintaining a high standard of practice that is safe and reliable for the public. They belong to a provincial regulatory body, such as the College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario, which means OTs adhere to a set of standards and regulations within their practice.


OTs can work in a variety of settings, including: schools, private clinics, hospitals, rehabilitation centres and long-term care homes. Within these settings, OTs often collaborate with a team of professionals such as speech-language pathologists, physiotherapists, behaviour therapists and social workers to name a few.


At this point, you may be thinking to yourself that the scope of OT seems quite broad. And you’re right! There is a lot we are expected to accomplish in a day, and as children are growing and developing, the demands of everyday tasks can become challenging at times. The following is a list of common areas addressed by OT with pre-school and school aged children to help you determine when it may be the right time for your child to see an OT.

If your child is experiencing difficulties in the following areas, they may benefit from OT:

  • Fine motor skills (i.e. handwriting, pencil grasp, cutting)

  • Gross motor skills (i.e. ball skills, balance, coordinating movement)

  • Daily living skills (i.e. dressing, toileting, self-feeding)

  • Feeding (i.e. limited food preferences or picky eater)

  • Sensory processing (i.e. avoids or seeks certain textures or movements)

  • Self-regulation (i.e. attention, impulsivity, emotional regulation)


OT allows children to thrive in their home and school environments by providing a holistic approach to enhancing their independence and self-esteem in everyday activities. OT focuses on maximizing a child’s function in their occupations through skill development, task and/or environmental modifications and use of adapted tools to best support them in engaging in their daily lives.

Please feel free to contact us with questions or to book an appointment. For more information, you can visit the websites below.

Chat soon!

Sarah de Almeida,

Occupational Therapist

College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario (COTO)

Ontario Society of Occupational Therapists (OSOT)

Canadian Association of Occupational Therapy (CAOT)

#occupationaltherapy #finemotorskills #grossmotorskills #dailiylivingskills #feeding #sensoryprocessing #selfregulation

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