What Do Pediatric Occupational Therapists Do?

What do pediatric occupational therapists do? Pediatric occupational therapists focus on helping children develop the skills they need to grow into independent, functional adults. Injures, physical impairment and a host of other issues can affect a child’s ability to progress normally through the stages of cognitive or social development or perform common tasks. 

What Do Pediatric Occupational Therapists Do?

There are various types of jobs in occupational therapy. This article outlines the role of a pediatric occupational therapist and how they help their patients’ development.

Patient Profiles

Pediatric occupational therapy can benefit a wide range of patients from children struggling to read and write to kids with ADHD and premature infants. Pediatric occupational therapy can help address the following areas:

  • Social skillsWhat Do Pediatric Occupational Therapists Do
  • Gross motor skills
  • Cognitive skills
  • Self-care skills
  • Fine motor skills

Equipment and Methods

Pediatric occupational therapists will often incorporate play into practice when working with children as a way of reducing any fears or anxiety or motivating them. Play can involve physical exercises, songs, toys, puzzles or games. Pediatric occupational therapy aims to help children adequately progress and also helps to build confidence and self-esteem and challenge them appropriately when it comes to aptitude and capabilities.

Work Setting and Salary

Pediatric occupational therapists work in environments such as private facilities that focus on pediatric care and development, hospitals, community outreach programs, schools and physical therapy clinics.

A pediatric occupational therapist will usually work 40-hour weeks, with some jobs requiring travel to different patient homes or therapy facilities. According to national statistics, the median national annual salary for an occupational therapist is about $84,000. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on years of experience, location, specialization within the field among other factors.

Certification and Training

To enter the field, a pediatric occupational therapist must typically hold a master’s degree from an accredited university and pass a national licensure exam. Most master’s degree programs in pediatric occupational therapy incorporate crucial hands-on training as part of the curriculum and take two years to complete. Beyond a national license, a therapist can also pursue voluntary certification.

Change Children’s LivesWhat Do Pediatric Occupational Therapists Do

For some people, growing into a self-sufficient adult may be easy. Others need a hand. Whether that hand helps them to gain specific physical control, speak more clearly or write better it helps them be more confident and reach maturity with strength – qualities critical to making it on their own.

How OT And Physical Therapy Differ

Although both occupational and physical therapy helps to improve kids’ quality of life, there are several differences. Physical therapy deals with gross motor functioning, endurance, joint range of motion, strength and pain, whereas occupational therapy deals more with sensory-processing deficits, cognitive skills, fine motor skills and visual-perceptual skills.

Bottom Line

There are many reasons and benefits to working as an occupational therapist. What do pediatric occupational therapists do? The short answer is that they help children with physical, cognitive or sensory disabilities to be as independent as possible in all areas of their lives. This kind of therapy can help kids with various needs to improve their motor, cognitive, sensory and physical skills, enhancing their sense of accomplishment and self-esteem. For more information, our team here at Theracare can provide you with more information.