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Assistive Technology Consulting

Lisa R. Tebo, OTR/L, ATP, Director

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What is Occupational Therapy?

"Occupation" is defined as the activities of every day life that have value and meaning to a person and culture.  Occupation generally consists of:

  • Activities of Daily Living (ADL's) These include self-care activities such as dressing, feeding, and hygiene, as well as those that effect our ability to interact with the environment or others, such as house work, chores, or maintenance.
  • Vocation  For adults, this includes developing work skills and habits, as well as obtaining and maintaining a job.  For children, this involves both the academic and non-academic aspects of education: exploration, discovery, and demonstration of knowledge and skills.
  • Recreation  Recreation is any activity that is completed for enjoyment, entertainment or amusement.  For children, this typically takes the form of play or hobbies.
  • Social Participation  This refers to the individual's ability to understand and use accepted patterns of behavior, to follow rules and expectations, and to make appropriate personal choices.


There are many factors that can impede the child's ability to complete any of these occupations effectively and independently.  They may include (but are not limited to) developmental delays, neurological, orthopedic, or sensory impairments, or environmental factors. 


Occupational therapy intervention uses purposeful, goal-directed activity to address the specific skills that impact occupational performance.  These skill areas may include:

  • Gross Motor Skills Gross motor skills include things such as balance, coordination, and body awareness.  It is the large muscle control that provides a foundation for the development of precision and control.
  • Fine Motor Skills  Fine motor skills refer to the ability to use the hands effectively to accomplish a task.  This may include finger dexterity, using the two hands together, effective use of objects ("tools"), or eye-hand coordination.
  • Visual Perceptual Skills  While visual acuity refers to how clearly we see an object, visual perception is the ability to interpret what we see.  Examples of visual perception include the ability to see similarities and differences between objects, to find an object in a cluttered drawer, and to  recognize objects when they are partially shielded or in another physical form.
  • Sensory Integration and Modulation Sensory processing refers to the ability to register and make sense of sensory input from the environment and our bodies.  It involves the ability to filter irrelavent sensory input so that we can attend to that which is important to us.  It also allows us to regulate our own levels of arousal or calmness.
  • Cognitive Skills Cognition refers to the mental process of knowing, through awareness, perception, reasoning and judgement.

Click here to learn more about developmental milestones for children ages 3 - 8.