Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapy

What is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational therapy addresses life “occupations”; it is concerned with the meaningful ways in which someone “occupies” their time. A child’s main occupations include play, scholastic activities, self-care, and being part of family unit. As a child grows, so do their occupations, roles, and routines. An occupational therapist evaluates what keeps an individual from being able to participate in life at an age appropriate level and uses meaningful, intrinsically motivating interventions to promote functional gains in a wide variety of areas. Treatment often addresses skills of daily living, sensory processing, body awareness, motor planning, self-regulation, attention to task, visual perceptual skills, fine motor skills and core strengthening. Progress is observed through increased satisfaction with participation, performance, role competence and quality of life.

The Specifics

Occupational therapists are specially trained to facilitate functional gains in a wide variety of areas. These areas are described below.

Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)

  • Bathing/Showering
  • Bowel and Bladder Management
  • Dressing
  • Eating
  • Feeding
  • Functional Mobility
  • Personal Device Care
  • Hygiene and Grooming
  • Sleep and Rest
  • Toilet Hygiene

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs)

  • Community Mobility
  • Health Management and Maintenance
  • Home Establishment and Maintenance
  • Meal Preparation and Cleanup
  • Play and Leisure
  • Exploration
  • Participation

Social Participation

  • Family Level
  • Peer/Friend Level
  • Community Level


  • Employment Interests and Pursuits
  • Employment Seeking and Acquisition

Most of the information above is outlined in the American Occupational Therapy Association’s official document, Occupational Therapy Practice Framework: Domain and Process, second edition:

American Occupational Therapy Association. (2008). Occupational therapy practice framework: Domain and process (2nd ed.). American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 62, 625-683.