What is Occupational Therapy?
Occupational therapy is the use of meaningful occupation to help people who have difficulty in achieving a healthy and balanced lifestyle and to enable an inclusive society so that all people can participate to their potential in the daily occupations of life.
This involves the therapist working directly with a child to change something about the child’s performance. For example if a child has difficulty with riding a bike, the therapist may teach the child the individual steps to riding the bike. The important aspect of direct intervention is that the therapist determines how to solve a problem and how to directly deliver the service to the child. This form of intervention can be carried out in the child’s home, school or in the clinic.
This is where the occupational therapist trains teachers, parents and/or relevant others to implement a procedure typically done by the therapist. Once again the therapist will still be in charge of solving problems and modifying the procedure. An example would be the development of a sensory diet for a child to carry out at school, which the therapist reviews every 6 weeks.
This is where the therapist works with the child, teachers, other professionals and parents to solve problems. The child, teacher and parent then own the problems and the solutions. This method requires regular meetings with the parents and relevant others during the year. Because the teachers/parents come to understand the child’s needs they can generalize principles and apply them to new situations with little assistance from the therapist.
Consultation can be extremely powerful. We believe it should be the primary type of service delivery used by practitioners working in schools. What little research there is in this area has supported the view that consultation is either as effective or more effective for meeting students’ objectives than is direct service. In fact, we have found no direct evidence to the contrary.”(Bundy 2002)
American Occupational Therapy Association fact sheets: Occupational Therapy in Preschool Settings and Occupational Therapy for Children available from http://www.aota.org/featured/area6/index.asp