Most adults who have had occupational therapy are familiar with how it helps them adapt to work and their job tasks at work after an injury, disease, or disorder makes it harder for them to do their jobs. That makes complete sense when you think about occupational therapy. However, you might be really confused when you think about pediatric occupational therapy. After all, children typically do not work jobs for pay (although there are a few exceptions like child actors and child entertainers), so why would children need this kind of therapy? Additionally, if your child is referred to an occupational therapist for children, you might want to know even more about what these professionals do and how the therapy will help your child.
Children Do Have "Jobs"
Children, in a sense, do have jobs. They go to school all day to learn and to grow. Everything they learn is training them to become adults, and providing basic physical, emotional, social, and intellectual skills to join the workforce when they are old enough. That is their "job." If your child is not able to do some of the things that his or her peers are already doing or learned how to do some time ago, then the pediatrician would want a pediatric occupational therapist to evaluate your child.
The Pediatric Occupational Therapist's Job
This therapist will test your child to see if he/she can hold a scissors, cut, snip, use tools in a functional manner, walk, hop, jump, skip, gallop, climb stairs in an age-appropriate manner, etc. If the therapist notices anything unusual, he/she might ask you if that is typical, or if you only see that unusual behavior or skill once in a while. If it happens regularly, it may be a skill that the occupational therapist wants you to work on with your child, or have the child work on with your child's occupational therapist at school. As the skill is mastered and your child catches up to his/her peers, the occupational therapy may switch goals or end. A transition period may or may not be necessary.
Preparing for a Job
If an adolescent client is referred to an occupational therapist, then it is usually to help the client gain skills needed to enter the workforce. A lot of practice on answering interview questions, appropriate behavior, and recognizing one's own strengths and weaknesses are stressed. This kind of therapy is typically used with adolescents who have Asperger's or who are high-functioning kids with autism.