Occupational therapists, also known as OT’s, work to help their clients with everyday activities of life. For adults, that could mean finding ways around hazards that could cause slips, trips, and falls.
For children, OT can involve sharpening motor or sensory skills through play.
“In therapy we use play to engage our children in therapy, and children learn through play,” said Hope Academy Clinical Services OT Jean Ria Conradie.
“A child’s main occupations are play, learning, and then basic activities of daily living like getting dressed, eating, brushing my teeth, making friends,” said Ms. Conradie.
She told Cayman 27 OT can help children who are having difficulties with these everyday activities.
“A child might have difficulty with writing, or tying his shoelaces, but we need to go back a little bit and see where these difficulties are coming from and, in many cases it might be a coordination difficulty, or a child might have difficulty planning his motor movements, and then we see all these other things that are difficult for the children to do, and we address these foundation skills in therapy,” said Ms. Conradie.
She said some parents are initially skeptical of the play-based therapy.
“They think how can this possibly be therapeutic, but as soon as they start seeing progress in the everyday skills and it’s being carried over at school and they’re getting better feedback from the teachers, I guess parents start believing in occupational therapy,” she said.
Of course, it’s not all play. Ms. Conradie told Cayman 27 home and school visits, paired with standardised and non-formal assessments help keep tabs on progress.
The only problem is persuading her clients that a session is over.
“They don’t want to leave this room,” she laughed. “They’re like ‘can we play one more game,’ or ‘can we do one more swing.'”
There are several occupational therapists on island, both in the government setting at the Early Intervention Programme and in private practice.