What is Occupational Therapy?
Have you been told that your child may need occupational therapy but you have no idea what that means?
Sure you have heard of physical therapy and speech therapy, but occupational therapy seems like it relates to a job. And you are thinking, my child is only 5, he doesn’t have a job!
You are not alone!
Occupational therapy can feel like a little known profession – but it can have a HUGE impact on lives across the lifespan. And chances are, if you have difficulty with everyday life skills, you may find yourself referred to an occupational therapist.
Here I will be answering all of these questions:
- What is Occupational Therapy?
- What do occupational therapists do with kids?
- How do I get occupational therapy for my child in Florida?
- Who do you recommend for occupational therapy in Lakeland or Brandon, FL?
- What occupational therapy services do you offer at Treeline Enrichment?
So what is occupational therapy?
Occupational therapy is a rehabilitation profession focused on meaningful participation in every day life activities. The profession began slowly in the 1800’s and became organized in the early 1900’s (you can read a brief history here).
From working on feeding skills in early childhood to drivers rehabilitation after a stroke, the scope of occupational therapy practice runs across the life span and in a variety of settings (hospitals, nursing homes, schools, home-health, clinics, early intervention, NICU, community settings, mental health facilities, and more)!
The goal of occupational therapy is to foster health, participation, and quality of life for our clients (AOTA). What this looks like is very unique to each person and an occupational therapist skillfully factors in social, emotional, cultural, physical, and environmental factors when working with a client. (You can learn a lot more about occupational therapy here).
The goal of occupational therapy is to foster health, participation, and quality of life for our clients. – AOTA
What do occupational therapists do with kids?
You may work with an occupational therapist through early intervention, during a hospital stay, in the school, in your home, in the community, in a clinic, or even OUTDOORS! With children, occupational therapists may support their growth, development, independence, and skills in areas such as:
- Accessibility & Environmental Modifications
- Sensory processing
- Tooth brushing
- Mental Health
- Friendship Skills
- Classroom Participation
- Adaptive Equipment
- Curriculum Modifications
- Job Skills Training
- Motor / Movement Patterns
- Fine Motor Skills
- Play Skills
- Visual Skills
- Cognitive Skills
- Executive Functioning Skills
- Bilateral Coordination
- Body Awareness
- Reflex Integration
- And More!
How do I get occupational therapy for my child in Florida?
Every state has different laws and regulations governing occupational therapy practice. In the state of Florida, occupational therapists are required to have a current license with the Department of Health, which currently involves (1) graduating from an accredited University with either a Masters or Doctorate degree in Occupational Therapy, (2) passing a rigorous board exam by the National Board for the Certification of Occupational Therapy, (3) ongoing continuing education coursework, and (4) ethically following the state mandated practice act. Signed parent consent and an annual occupational therapy evaluation is required in the state of Florida for your child to receive OT services.
Note: In the state of Florida, a physicians prescription is NOT required for you to access occupational therapy services, however many insurance companies require this in order to pay for or reimburse for services.
There are wonderful occupational therapists across Florida! Before you begin your search, consider these questions:
- Write down your concerns – but be sure to also write down your child’s strengths & interests.
- Be mindful that occupational therapists depend on parent partnerships for ongoing communication & carry-over of strategies at home. Are you able to prioritize time and effort to help your child grow into their best self?
- Call local therapy providers and ask questions such as: (1) How long is the waiting list to get started with service? (2) Tell me about the skills and experience of your therapists. (3) Are parents involved in the sessions and how are home programs carried out?
Note: If your child is under 3 years old, be sure to contact Early Steps – a state-funded program for early intervention.
Who do you recommend for occupational therapy in Lakeland or Brandon, FL?
Over the years, I have personally worked alongside or collaborated with therapists in these Lakeland, FL and Brandon, FL settings. I cannot speak to their current therapist team or practice standards, but this is where I would start.
Note: This is NOT an exhaustive list of the amazing occupational therapists in our area, these are just the practices that I have personally interacted with over my 15+ years as a pediatric occupational therapist.
- All Children’s Hospital – Lakeland, FL Campus
- Achievement Academy (Charter School), Lakeland, Winter Haven, & Bartow, FL
- Fuse Therapy, Hillsborough County
- Lakeland Regional Health, Lakeland, FL
- Pediatric Therapy Services, Lakeland and Brandon, FL
- Polk County School Board
- Treeline Enrichment, Lakeland FL (that’s us!)
- True Blue Therapy, Brandon FL
What occupational therapy services do you offer at Treeline Enrichment?
At Treeline Enrichment, we help kids become more coordinated & connected in the real world. We heard parents saying:
- My child is doing great in therapy but falls apart on the playground.
- How can I help my child make friends?
- This clinic is awesome, but what can I do at home? I don’t have all this equipment.
Treeline offers occupational therapy sessions in the GREAT OUTDOORS! Treeline OT sessions help to BRIDGE clinic skills and real life. Our sessions do not feel like “therapy” – the kids think they are just playing! Sessions are fun, functional, and meaningful!