Occupational therapists are licensed healthcare professionals who facilitate people's occupations. The term occupational therapist can be confusing as we often equate "occupation" with "job". For an occupational therapist, occupation is defined simply as “whatever occupies your time” - the things that you want or need to do in your daily life.
Occupational therapists work with babies and children and their families from infancy onward. For babies and children, occupations include:
The unique expertise of occupational therapists is to analyse what people do and what they want or need to do, and help them to do it. They work collaboratively with families to co-create approaches for each family’s unique situation, being mindful of people’s rights, needs, preferences, values, abilities, and environments, to support their goals toward health and well-being.
Parenting is certainly an important occupation. Welcoming a child into the family is incredible, but it can certainly come with its own unique challenges. All babies and children are different. As parents gradually learn about their child, there are always many questions and often worries. Occupational Therapists can assist with the transition to parenthood, including helping parents find systems and routines to help with the changes in your daily life. They can also assist parents in exploring and supporting their child's growth and development in many areas (play, motor skills, feeding, regulation, sensory processing, participating in daily routines - hygiene, sleep, toilet learning, dressing, etc.).
Occupational Therapy takes a holistic approach to supporting the whole family. Occupational therapy can also work with other professionals to support the individual needs of the child and family.
You can choose either in-person or virtual appointments. For the initial visit, your occupational therapist will ask a variety of questions to get to know you and your family better and explore what your priorities are. If appropriate and needed, observation and one-to-one direct interaction with your child in play or completing other activities may be a part of the session to assess and address any concerns regarding your child's motor development, feeding skills, play skills, and other physical and neurological development. A home visit may be helpful when there are questions or challenges with feeding or setting up the environment to facilitate motor skills or support sensory needs.
Depending on the nature of priorities/concerns, follow up sessions may be best suited for a virtual (video or telephone) discussion with the occupational therapist and parent to explore how previous strategies are progressing and what might be most helpful next, using a coaching approach.
Some extended health insurance plans cover Occupational Therapy. If Occupational Therapy is not covered by your extended health insurance, or you do not have insurance, you may be able to claim Occupational Therapy services on your annual taxes.