What is occupational therapy? Occupational therapy (OT) is a related HOMEservice that focuses on helping people function to their fullest potential in their environment. It may be needed due to a psychosocial, motor, or cognitive impairment. The "occupation" of all people is to perform their daily routine with the highest level of independence.

What does therapy involve? Activities engaged in to reach our goals can vary greatly and may include: age and skill appropriate games that address goals, learning & practicing adapted methods for daily skills, home safety, arm strengthening exercises, co-operative groups, or manipulating small objects. Also used are activities that focus on following directions, sequencing, and movement. One or more of the following areas may be addressed:

Click on the words to learn more! or scroll down for glossary...


Activity of daily living (ADL) The basic tasks performed on a daily basis in order to engage in daily routine. Can include bathing, toileting, dressing, hygiene, and eating skills.
Assistive technology Any device that is used to assist an individual to reach a goal or enhance performance. Can be low tech ( mirror or pencil grip) or high tech (computer or wheel chair)
Balance reaction or protective reaction When balance is lost, this is an automatic response to use arms to stabilize body. Protective responses are similar and is the use of outstretched arms when falling forward.
Cognitive Relating to the developmental area surrounding thinking skills. Includes how to receive, process, analyze and understand information.
Fine motor skills The development and use of small muscles coordination to perform activities. This most often refers to the hands.
Gross motor skills The development and use of large muscles such as trunk and legs to perform activities.
Life skills The practical skills used & applied in daily life. Can include reading menus, schedules, phone skills, everyday money skills, and social concepts.
motor skills Not in reference to your car! Motor refers to the use & coordination of muscles to achieve a goal. Can be gross motor, fine motor, sensorimotor, or any combination.
Motor planning The ability to organization all input and execute a series of movements
psychosocial components refer to the skill & perfomrance in self management, and group interpersonal interactions
sensory awareness tasks areas that involve interpreting stimuli such as understanding touch, identification of body parts in space, balance, & visual tracking.
Sensory integration The ability to receive, understand , learn from, and develop skills through physical sensation from the environment. Input is through all 5 senses
Vestibular stimulation Activities that utilize the inner ear structures that assist in maintaining balance. Vestibular activities such as swinging & rocking, help increase awareness of body position and balance.
Visual motor coordination The ability to perform skills that integrates both visual and motor skills for one goal.
Visual spatial awareness the skill and performance of percieving distances between & relationships among objects

some definitions are adapted from the following resource:

Willard & Spackman's Occupational Therapy 8th Edition, Ed. Hopkins and Smith. J.P. Lippencourt Company, Philadelphia,PA: 1993.