Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy is a branch of health care that helps people of all ages who have physical, sensory, or cognitive problems.  Occupational Therapists (OTs) areuniversity educated, provincially regulated, medical professionals who are trained to understand the psychosocial factors that affect the functioning of the whole person as well as the medical and physical limitations of a disability


Occupational therapists can help with barriers that affect a person's emotional, social, and physical needs. To do this, they use everyday activities, exercises, and other therapies.  Theyhelps kids play, improve their school performance, and support their daily activities.  With OT support, clients can:

  • Develop fine motor skills(small-muscle movements made with the hands, fingers, and toes, such as grasping) so they can grasp and release toys and develop good handwriting or computer skills.
  • Improve visual processing (eye–hand coordination) so they can play and perform school skills such as batting a ball and copying from a blackboard.
  • Master basic life skills such as bathing, getting dressed, brushing teeth, and self-feeding.
  • Learn positive behaviors and social skills by practicing how they manage frustration and anger.
  • Learn to recognize the effects of sensory overload early and to use sensory tools and strategies to regulate attention in a wide range of environments
  • Receive special equipment help build their independence.


Who Might Need Occupational Therapy?

OT can help kids and teens who have:

  • Developmental disabilities
  • sensory processing disorders
  • traumatic injuries to the brain or spinal cord
  • learning problems
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder

Occupational therapy is a type of health care that helps to solve the problems that interfere with a person’s ability to do the things that are important to them – everyday things like:

  • Self-care - getting dressed, eating, moving around the house,
  • Being productive - going to work or school, participating in the community, and
  • Leisure activities - sports, gardening, social activities.

Occupational therapy can also prevent a problem or minimize its effects. Often called OTs, Occupational Therapists are the primary providers of occupational therapy services. OTs are:

  • university educated professionals that apply their specialized knowledge and skills to recommend a course of preventive or corrective action that will help people lead more productive and satisfying lives,
  • trained to understand not only the medical and physical limitations of a disability or injury, but also the psychosocial factors that affect the functioning of the whole person
  • occupational therapists must be registered provincially to practice legally in Canada.

© Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists

Occupational Therapists, Autism Spectrum Disorder and Sensory Integration:

Most of us unconsciously learn to combine our senses (sight, sound, smell, touch, taste, balance, body in space) to make sense of our environment. Children with autism have trouble learning to do this. Consequently, their play schemes are limited to the few habitual manners they use when interacting with the world. Occupational therapists use sensory integration therapy to help a child with autism play like other children. Sensory integration therapy involves placing a child in a room specifically designed to stimulate and challenge all the senses. During the session, the therapist works closely with the child to encourage movement within the room.

© Autism Canada

Information sheets
Developing a pencil grip
Hand preference
Prewriting skillsPencil pressure
In-hand manipulation
Low muscle tone
Shoulder stability and control
Activity ideas to develop arm co-ordination, strength and endurance
Hand and finger strength
Hand and finger strength - Adolescents
Playdough and exercise putty
Encouraging young babies to use their hands
Encouraging older babies to use their hands
Encouraging toddlers to use two hands
Encouraging preschool children to use two hands
Encouraging school children to use two hands
Pressure garments
Scar management
Hand exercisesThumb exercises
Finger exercises
Finger stretches
FDP tenolysis exercises
FDS tenolysis exercises
Supination exercises
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