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Occupational Therapy-Teach, Love, Hope, & Inspire

Written by STC Occupational Therapy Assistant Program instructor Dr. Celina Casas

April is Occupational Therapy Month! What a time to celebrate for occupational therapy practitioners.

What is occupational therapy (OT), you may ask? According to the American Occupational Therapy Association (2020), occupational therapy allows individuals to engage in valued occupations throughout the rehabilitative process.

An occupation is anything that an individual partakes in that they find meaningful and participate in daily. Our clients consist of individuals young and old, and our client's occupations will vary based on their interests, motivations, and age.

The beauty of our profession is that we can analyze the occupation that individuals desire to return to, and we work on the skills to allow that individual to engage in their daily occupations.

Occupations can be simple to complex.

They may involve themselves or others, and may require minimal to high levels of cognitive skills. As occupational therapy practitioners, we help assist in the engagement of these occupations. We address various client factors and performance skills that may impede their ability to partake in the occupations they are having difficulty doing due to the possible motor, process, or social interaction difficulties. 

April is also Autism Awareness Month! It's time to light up the world with kindness. If you do not know one of these extraordinary individuals, it is time to do so.

You would be surprised how much you can learn from an individual with autism.

According to Autism Speaks (2021), the CDC in 2020 reported: "44 percent of individuals with Autism have IQ scores in the average to above-average range (i.e., IQ >85)" and "early intervention can improve learning, communication, and social skills, as well as underlying brain development."

Occupational therapy can play a vital part in the development of these skills to live successful lives. Individuals with autism, at times, have difficulty being understood in our community due to their unique abilities. At times they are so used to their daily routines being a certain way, and when it is changed, it can lead to a stressful inability to self-regulate.

It is essential to identify what is working and not working for the individual through a means of communication, whether through verbal, non-verbal, or assistive technology. As an occupational therapy practitioner along with the collaboration with speech therapy, it is essential to quickly learn the importance of finding their means of communication and practice empathy. 

Empathy is where one tries to enter the client’s world to better understand and guide them in the rehabilitative process.

At times as OT practitioners, we have to place ourselves in someone's shoes and walk the walk.

Occupational therapy practitioners need to have a big heart and help connect these puzzle pieces that many times seem impossible to do independently.

As an OT practitioner, we can help an individual with a newly acquired disability by remediating for their loss, help a parent through child development enabling new skills to develop the first time or assist in maintaining what is present due to deterioration or loss of skills to continue to live their lives as independent as possible.

It is crucial to communicate with our clients from the beginning to have a successful therapeutic relationship.

Interested in entering this great profession? Reach out to our South Texas College Occupational Therapy Assistant Program for more information at https://nah.southtexascollege.edu/ota/

Happy OT Month and Autism Awareness Month from South Texas College Occupational Therapy Assistant Program.