Paediatric Occupational Therapy is …
When I get asked in job interviews, by my family/friends, and by my clients to explain what Paediatric Occupational Therapy is, I can never explain it in just one sentence. Why?… because my role, skills and expertise are diverse; my hours, days and clients are so varied, I couldn’t sum it up and justify what I can do in just one sentence, because every day is different and here’s why…
As a Paediatric Occupational Therapist, my primary focus is to maximise a child’s engagement, achievement and independence in all daily occupations, for a child this will cover occupations in: school, play, leisure and self-care skills. I will help to maximise a child’s independence, their access and safety at home and in school. I will provide educational classes to help and support teachers, parents and children to understand their difficulties with everyday tasks and ways to develop a child’s skill in different settings, as well as recommending equipment to promote independency. I will always use a holistic approach which means I cover every aspect of the child in their context and understand how this can impact on their occupations.
Why it’s varied
My work is varied because my clients and their situation are varied. My clients could be aged between 0-25 years old, have a variety of health conditions, such as Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, etc. I could be working with them in a variety of settings, such as a nursery, clinic or home, and could be working with them on a 1:1 basis or a group basis. As each child is unique, they each have individual needs and individual goals which are important to them and their circumstances. Every occupation has a different meaning and purpose to a child depending on their age, role, interests, values, and abilities. In the day I could go from practicing balancing skills on the trampoline one hour to practising hand dexterity by finger painting the next hour. Therefore, not one person is the same as another, making every hour and day different from the next.
A few of my skills/expertise I would use in a day:
- I can break down any occupation into achievable steps
- Excellent team working and communication skills
- Excellent observation skills
- Can do attitude
- Problem solving abilities
- Patient, caring and kind
- Compassion and empathy
- Understanding the child and their interests/ what motivates them
- Develop individualise rehabilitation programmes
- Advise on home adaptations
- Train students
- Support people to gain new skills and confidence
- Provide advice to educate those involved
Why I chose Occupational Therapy
After explaining a bit more about my role as an Occupational Therapist, and demonstrating how diverse it can, a lot of people then ask me why I chose this specific profession as my career…
My values and outlook on life influenced a big part of why I wanted to work with children; I believe that every child should be given the best start in life, support and opportunities in life. This gives them the ability to choose what they want to do and who they want to be when they grow up. I am also a big kid at heart and love getting involved with the children when playing, singing and having fun. I chose the career path of Occupational Therapy as I felt that my personality suited this profession to a T. When I learnt about the role and how what Occupational Therapists could do to help others, I was won over/ captivated and knew this was something I wanted to do, get involved with and tell more people about it. Working with children in this role is so varied; I am constantly being challenged and growing my knowledge and learning new things, but the one thing that will always remain the same is my determination and passion for what I do.