What Is Pediatric Occupational Therapy?
Occupational therapy assistants work with patients from all walks of life and from all backgrounds. That includes children. Pediatric occupational therapy is one of the largest areas of OT, which makes becoming a pediatric OTA a great career choice if you love working with kids and seeing them grow.
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Why do children need occupational therapy?
Children may require occupational therapy for a variety of reasons. Clients could need therapy because of injuries, trauma, or conditions like cancer. They could also be living with a condition they were born with, such as birth defects, autism, or developmental delays. Broken bones and other maladies could also cause children to need occupational therapy. Regardless of a client’s diagnosis, OTAs will be teaching kids essential skills for the first time.
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Occupational therapy assistants who work with kids encounter a variety of diagnoses.
Teaching skills to children during occupational therapy
When OTAs work with adults, they often help them regain essential life skills after a traumatic event. An adult who’s had a stroke or been in a traumatic accident is going to be familiar with their own activities of daily living and need to adjust based on their new conditions. Kids, however, are often learning important life skills for the first time. That means you’ll be one of their earliest and most important adult figures.
You won’t just teach essential skills to children. You’ll also teach them why those skills are important. Kids won’t, for example, brush their teeth just because you say so. They often have to have a reason for doing it, and something that will come up again and again in pediatric work is being able to give your young clients a clear and satisfying answer about why we do things. With some clients, that question might be explicit; with others it might be implied. Even if a child can’t verbalize, one of the skills an occupational therapy assistant has to have is detecting the child’s lack of understanding then answering them in a meaningful way.
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Providing occupational therapy to kids is rewarding
A lot of what OTAs do with kids can look like play. Children’s occupation is play. OTAs work with the to be able to engage in this vital occupation. Occupational therapy is about giving clients the skills they need to live independently. One of the most important things for children to do is play. Kids need to be able to experience joy, learn, form bonds with each other, and use their imagination. They also need to learn how to put on their clothes and feed themselves. You could teach them how to do that, too.
Giving kids the ability to be kids is one of the most rewarding parts of working with children in occupational therapy. You won’t just help them understand what they learn in school—you’ll help them have a happier childhood.
Ameritech’s OTA program offers clinical practice, classroom instruction, and rigorous coursework in just five semesters. Visit our program page for more information about our OTA and other healthcare programs.