What is occupational therapy?

Occupational therapists prioritize ensuring that clients and families can participate in their daily occupations (i.e., the things they want and need to do) by employing group and individualized treatment approaches to support participation and role fulfillment across the lifespan. For children that looks like prioritizing daily routines, academic participation, play, and/or access to social opportunities at home and in their community.

Occupational Therapy

Certified and licensed occupational therapists (OTs) offer individual, consultative, and small-group occupational therapy for toddlers through adults targeting a variety of areas, including:

  • Cognitive skills
  • Feeding
  • Play
  • Fine, gross, and visual-motor skills
  • Self-care and hygiene
  • Sensory processing differences
  • Social participation.

OTs conduct evaluations using a combination of formal, standardized measures (e.g., tests) and informal, low-structured measures (e.g., naturalistic observation, family report), based on family/client concerns and the OT’s observations of the client. The purpose of an assessment is to gather information about a client’s current strengths and challenges and to formulate recommendations based on the results of the evaluation.

Following an evaluation, an OT will develop individual, personalized goals for each client based on their current skills, developmental expectations, functional importance, and family/client preference. These goals will then be targeted during treatment sessions. The OT will also collaborate with caregivers to discuss strategies to help clients develop targeted skills at home and in community settings, to support generalization of skills across tasks and environments.

Treatment strategies include a range of evidence-based practices incorporating structured activities as well as teaching in naturalistic opportunities that may be child-led and likely play based to support client outcomes.OTs aim to increase clients’ skills across cognitive, motor, and/or physical domains while simultaneously decreasing support (e.g., models, cues, prompts), to ensure that clients can participate in their necessary and valuable occupations.

Occupational Therapy Evaluations

Occupational therapy evaluations are holistic in nature and are tailored to meet the needs of the child and their family. To understand the client in context, occupational therapists may explore a child’s participation in their home, school, and community environments by inquiring about their participation in self-care, productivity, and leisure pursuits. Our occupational therapists gather information through parent reports, skilled clinical observation formal assessments, and curated tasks to generate a comprehensive evaluation of each child’s strengths and challenges based on presenting concerns.

Initial recommendations are discussed in person and a detailed evaluation report is provided for use at home, school, or individual occupational therapy. These reports include a summary of performance on testing and other measures, individual goals, recommendations for therapy, and discussion of related concerns (e.g., referrals to other disciplines including applied behavior analysis, counseling, speech-language therapy, or physical therapy). Direct occupational therapy services are available at our Seattle clinic and consultative services available at our Tacoma clinic.