What is OT? Through the Eyes of Future OTs

Our names are Kaylah and Holly, and we have spent a week at Townsville Occupational Therapy Service for our year 10 work experience. Being students in the TOTS clinic, we have closely watched Alicia and the other girls in how they interact with the children.

During our experience at TOTS we learnt many things. One thing that we both did not understand, is that there are many areas of expertise in occupational therapy. We have learnt that ‘occupation’ means any activity you do in your life that occupies your time and has meaning. When these activities are no longer able to be accomplished due to illness, disability or developmental delay, that is when OT comes in. When things we do in our day such as cooking, sleeping, brushing our teeth or work are no longer able to be accomplished, it is the occupational therapist’s job to help you work your way to your goal. Their job is to modify the occupation and/or how it is done, changing the environment that the occupation happens in, or changing the person and their skills.

This experience has been a real eye opener to the world of healthcare and working with children. We have developed an understanding of the skills children need to develop, such as, pinchy fingers (a pincer grasp), prewriting shapes, and general fine motor skills and gross motor skills. We learnt that play is one of the most important developments in a child’s life. We also learnt how children with disabilities and developmental delays develop these skills differently, and may need more help to achieve them.

At first our initial thought of being an OT was that it was similar to that of a school environment, where you placed a book in front of the child and asked them to work. When we got here, we discovered it was more. OT aims to develop the child’s health and development through the use of games and physical activity.

Occupational therapy is a career path that we may definitely consider for the future!