Occupational Therapy Hints and Tips (2022)

Occupational Therapy Hints and Tips

Occupational Therapy believe that joining in (participating in) every day activities (occupations) improves wellbeing. Taking part in occupations helps you to live a safe, healthy and happy life.

We understand that there is a connection between 'the person', 'the occupation' and 'the environment' and that by making changes to any of these areas you can improve participation and wellbeing.

Occupational Therapy Hints and Tips (1)

No one will ever learn any new skills if they do not participate and practice. Sometimes you need to have a go and make mistakes so that you can learn. Occupational therapy support children/young people to participate in everyday activities from an early age to give them the best chance of reaching their potential and becoming independent adults.

Occupational Therapy Hints and Tips (2)Person

Occupational Therapy Hints and Tips (3)We are all Individuals

We all have our own beliefs, motivators, learning styles, strengths/resilience and vulnerabilities. These can all impact on participation and wellbeing.

Motivation and Goal Setting

Everyone has their own likes and dislikes. What motivates them to persevere with an activity when it is challenging is different for each individual. For most children play is motivating and occupational therapists use play activities to assess and treat children.

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Goal setting is an important part of all Health Professional's roles. Anyone who works with children and young people need to take into consideration the child/young person’s priorities and motivators as well as those of their family and the other professionals who make up the team around the child.

Goal setting also helps us to identify when therapy should end. Goal setting can help you to empower your child/young person to make changes in their life.

Talking about what is important to you both and agreeing on a shared goal ensures you are both motivated to put in the work required to make the changes needed.

You can use reward charts and keep videos and photos of before and after working on the goal to keep your child motivated. Tell other adults who your child respects so that they can support you both.

Learning Styles

Occupational Therapy Hints and Tips (4)Everybody learns in different ways. There are three main ways of learning: doing (kinaesthetic), watching (visual), and listening (auditory). Everyone has their own preference of how they learn best and you and your child may vary in these preferences. You may need to help your child in different ways by showing, telling or physically doing with your child.

Some people need a combination of information to learn best and others cannot cope with a combination of information. Experiment with each of these learning styles and find what suits your child best. Remember that some children cannot listen and look at the same time so you might need to show your child and then tell your child rather than showing and telling at the same time.


Participation and Practice

No one will ever learn any new skills if they do not participate and practice. Sometimes you need to have a go and make mistakes so that you can learn. It is important that children and young people are supported to join in with everyday activities from an early age to give them the best chance of reaching their potential and becoming independent adults.

Occupational Therapy Hints and Tips (5)

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Some children/young people will be dependent on others for some or all of their occupations and practice will not help them to develop skills. Participation is also important for these children/young people as being involved in their own care to best of their abilities can have a huge impact on their well-being.

Finding the 'Just Right' Challenge

Occupational Therapy Hints and Tips (6)There are a number of ways that you can think about making changes to the occupation or task. Occupational therapists call these changes grading and activity analysis.

Think about when you are trying to learn a new skill. If the task is too easy it doesn’t pose a challenge and you get bored quickly. If the task is too challenging then you become frustrated and may give up.

The same is true for children. We need to give each child the ‘just right’ challenge, not too easy or too hard. Both the principles below can help you to get the challenge ‘just right’ for your child. You can also make the activity easier or harder. Occupational therapists call this grading.

Breaking Down a Task into Manageable Chunks

When teaching your child a new skill (e.g. using a fork, tying their laces, making a cup of tea, skipping with a rope, using scissors etc.) it helps to break the activity down into manageable chunks. You can then teach one chunk at a time, make up a visual aid using photographs or symbols or make a sequence checklist depending on what suits your child, or use adaptive equipment to help with a specific step. You can also look at each of the steps in turn to identify where things are going wrong for your child/young person.

Occupational Therapy Hints and Tips (7)Think about making a cup of tea, this activity can be broken down into lots of different steps. The steps may vary given the environment, what order you like to do things in (milk first or last?) but generally they remain the same. Once you have learned the key components of a task, you then learn how to do the task in different environments.

Let’s break making a cup of tea down into steps.

  1. Gather what you need - cup, tea pot, kettle, tea bag, milk, sugar, teaspoon (this list will be different depending on how you take your tea and what resources you have access to).
  2. Fill the kettle.
  3. Boil the water - again this might be different depending on how your kettle works, whether or not your kettle stays plugged in etc.
  4. Place the tea bag in the mug/teapot.
  5. Pour hot water.
  6. Remove tea bag.
  7. Add milk and sugar to taste.
  8. Enjoy cuppa!

Here are some examples of how you can use these steps to help your child to learn a new skills:

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Occupational Therapy Hints and Tips (8)Visual Aids

Use photos or symbols to aid learning.

  • Make a slide show/ flip book/ photo album on a phone or tablet with photos or symbols of the different steps.
  • Make a visual list of all the items required for the task.

Occupational Therapy Hints and Tips (9)Checklists

Use checklists as reminders of the sequence of steps.

These could be written lists with boxes to tick when steps are completed. Or you could combine the checklist with photos or symbols.

Step by Step

Focus on teaching one step at a time.

  • You can use chaining - teaching one step at a time in order. You can start with either the first step and work towards the last step (forward chaining) or start with the last step and work towards the first step (backward chaining).
  • By looking at each step in the task you can work out where things are going wrong. You and your child can then focus on problem solving around that step.

Adaptive Equipment

Use adaptive/alternative equipment for the different steps.

In the making tea example you could use:

  • A jug to fill the kettle if holding the kettle is too difficult.
  • A kettle tipper or a flask with just enough water if lifting and pouring from the kettle is difficult.
  • A tea bag squeezer.
  • A liquid level indicator if knowing when to stop pouring is difficult.

Occupational Therapy Hints and Tips (10)

Giving Help

Occupational Therapy Hints and Tips (11)There are different methods you can use to help your child to learn.

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You can show your child, do the activity next to them or watch videos of the task. The child is watching.

You can tell your child, talk your child through each step of the process. The child is listening.

You can do the task with your child by putting your hands over theirs and doing the task. The child is doing.
Try out different ways of helping until you find what suits your child. You can use each of these ways individually or any combination depending on what suits your child. For a lot of children it can be difficult to watch and listen at the same time. So try each way individually before you try using combinations. Once you find what works for your child stick with this approach.


The environment can impact on participation and well-being. To support participation in occupation we can make changes to the environment.

Occupational Therapy Hints and Tips (12)
We can think of the environment in a variety of ways:

Physical - Occupational Therapists are skilled in looking at the physical environment and suggesting changes which can improve participation and well-being.

We can assess the home environment and make recommendations in relation to adaptive equipment which may be beneficial. We might suggest that your child/young person completes a task in a different room or position.

Sensory - The sensory environment can impact on a child/young person's participation and well-being.

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Occupational Therapists can help you think about the sensory environment in relation to activities of daily living and make some suggestions about how you can modify the sensory environment to help your child to participate more.

Social/Cultural - Occupational Therapists think about the social and cultural environment which children are part of and how these environments may be helping them to succeed. An Occupational Therapist will make sure that any recommendations are relevant to the child and those around them.


What are the 5 domains of occupational therapy? ›

These domains are:
  • Occupations.
  • Performance patterns.
  • Performance skills.
  • Environment and context.
  • Client factors.
19 Dec 2019

How do I get the most out of occupational therapy? ›

To get the most out of your therapy, or to help someone you care for, try these tips to stay motivated:
  1. Be patient with yourself and your progress. ...
  2. Stay involved in your treatment. ...
  3. Keep your eyes on the goal. ...
  4. Don't skip sessions with your therapist. ...
  5. Do your "homework" everyday, even if you don't feel like it.
12 Feb 2016

What techniques are used in occupational therapy? ›

6 Techniques and Equipment Used by Occupational Therapists
  • Spirometers. These devices measure the air capacity of the lungs and are especially helpful for patients recovering from injuries to the chest or ribcage. ...
  • Medical Screenings. ...
  • Physical Activity. ...
  • Home Visits. ...
  • Life Changes and Adaptions. ...
  • Patient-Centered Care.

What are the 3 components of the OT process? ›

Process of OT

Intervention includes treatment planning, implementation, and review.

What are the 7 core values of occupational therapy? ›

The profession of occupational therapy remains grounded in seven core concepts, as identified in the Core Values and Attitudes of Occupational Therapy Practice (AOTA, 1993): altruism, equality, freedom, justice, dignity, truth, and prudence.

What is useful habits in occupational therapy? ›

Three types of habits are described in the OTPF: useful habits support occupations, impoverished habits do not support occupations, and dominating habits interfere with occupations. Examining performance patterns helps the OT practitioner understand how the occupation is actually accomplished for the individual client.

How do I stand out in an OT application? ›

5 Tips for Students Applying to Occupational Therapy School
  1. Thoroughly research the schools you are interested in. ...
  2. Write a Strong Personal Statement. ...
  3. Complete a Competitive Amount of Shadowing Hours. ...
  4. Highlight Your Relevant Volunteer and Extracurricular Activities. ...
  5. Prepare for the Graduate School Interview.
10 Jan 2022

How do I shadow an OT? ›

Once you identify a school where you would like to do your job shadowing, call the office. Introduce yourself and explain your goals for observation. The school will likely point you in the right direction. You may have to write a letter or talk with an administrator or the therapist directly.

What is grading in occupational therapy? ›

“Grading,” defined:

Grading occupational therapy interventions simply means increasing or decreasing the difficulty of the intervention you've provided based on how your patient is responding to it. If the activity is too easy, you would grade it up to make it a greater challenge.

What is occupational therapy for dummies? ›

Occupational therapy works to improve the life skills or vocational path of their clients/patients. It is a form of rehabilitation that helps people overcome or adapt to their functional deficiencies so they can live as independently as possible.

What are tools in occupational therapy? ›

OT tools can include games, toys, activities, educational handouts, intervention strategies, exercises, worksheets, adapted equipment, pencil grips, methodologies, knowledge, access to research studies, screening and evaluation materials, data collection tools, and specialized equipment.

What is an occupational therapist for dummies? ›

Occupational therapy (OT) is an allied health profession that involves the therapeutic use of everyday activities, or occupations, to treat the physical, mental, developmental, and emotional ailments that impact a patient's ability to perform day-to-day tasks.

What are the 4 pillars of occupational therapy? ›

1.4 The Framework is structured around four interacting Pillars of Practice, namely: Professional Practice; Facilitation of Learning; Leadership; and Evidence, Research and Development.

What can't an OTA do? ›

An OTA can state or write observations but cannot make an evaluation or determine a need for occupational therapy services. This must be determined by an OT. The OT interprets the information provided by the OTA and integrates that information into the evaluation and decision-making process.

What is the Moho model in occupational therapy? ›

The Model of Human Occupations (MOHO) is a model that describes how humans generate and modify their occupations in interaction with environment, which presents a dynamic open cycle system of human actions.

What are the six principles in the occupational therapy Code of Ethics? ›

The American Occupational Therapy Association has six principles that they stand by. Those principles are beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, justice, veracity, and fidelity.

What is AOTA's Vision 2025? ›

Vision 2025

As an inclusive profession, occupational therapy maximizes health, well-being, and quality of life for all people, populations, and communities through effective solutions that facilitate participation in everyday living.

What are considered values? ›

Values are individual beliefs that motivate people to act one way or another. They serve as a guide for human behavior. Generally, people are predisposed to adopt the values that they are raised with. People also tend to believe that those values are “right” because they are the values of their particular culture.

What is the goal of occupational therapy? ›

The primary goal of occupational therapy is to enable people to participate in the activities of everyday life. Occupational therapists achieve this outcome by enabling people to do things that will enhance their ability to participate or by modifying the environment to better support participation.

What is a dominating habit? ›

Dominating habits. -Habits that are so demanding they interfere with daily life. -Habits that satisfy a compulsive need for order. Examples of Dominating habits. -repetitive self-stimulation such as type occurring in autism.

How do occupational therapists improve health and wellbeing? ›

As mental health advisers, occupational therapists make assessments as to how people's ability to learn is affected by their mental health problems. They work with students to develop strategies, enabling them to complete their courses/ placements and fulfil their student role.

Is it harder to get into PT or OT school? ›

Historically, PT programs have been more difficult to get into than OT, but in the past few years the number of applicants to OT programs have literally grown exponentially.

How long should my OT personal statement be? ›

Do keep the length to 1-2 pages max. You want it to be short and sweet. If any sentence or paragraph looks unnecessary after you do a final read-through, get rid of it. As a general rule, personal statements run on average 600-800 words.

What is the easiest occupational therapy school to get into? ›

Let's begin our list of 10 easiest occupational therapy schools to get into.
  • Western New Mexico, New Mexico. ...
  • Vincennes University, Indiana. ...
  • Community College of Baltimore County, Maryland. ...
  • Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Mississippi. ...
  • East Mississippi Community College, Mississippi.
9 Feb 2021

Do occupational therapists get white coat ceremonies? ›

Many graduate healthcare programs, ranging from medical and nursing school to physical therapy and occupational therapy degree programs, hold a white coat ceremony as a rite of passage for students.

How do you find observation hours? ›

Another good way to get observation hours is by entering a volunteer program at a local healthcare facility. Volunteering may entail being a rehab technician at an outpatient clinic or helping in patient transport at a hospital.

What is scaffolding in occupational therapy? ›

Along with adaptations to daily activities, parents should also use scaffolding as a method to teach their children and guide them through tasks. Scaffolding is a learning technique in which the adult relinquishes control of a task to the child over time.

What is OT adaptation? ›

Occupational adaptation is a concept used within occupational therapy to describe the process and/or outcome of the interaction between the person, occupation, and environment in response to occupational challenge [1.

What is the difference between adaptation and grading? ›

For the purposes of this unit, grading will refer to changing the complexity of what is to be performed, and adapting will refer to modifying or substituting objects used in per forming the activity.

What do the domains of occupational therapy describe? ›

The domain of occupational therapy includes: Occupations (e.g., activities of daily living, rest and sleep, work, and education) Contexts (i.e., environmental and personal factors) Performance patterns (i.e., habits, routines, roles, and rituals)

What are the areas of occupation? ›

There are 8 areas of occupation that OTs are trained in:
  • Activities of daily living (ADLs)
  • Instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs)
  • Sleep and rest.
  • Work.
  • Education.
  • Play.
  • Leisure.
  • Social participation.
31 Jan 2019

What is the Moho model in occupational therapy? ›

The Model of Human Occupations (MOHO) is a model that describes how humans generate and modify their occupations in interaction with environment, which presents a dynamic open cycle system of human actions.

What should be included in occupational profile? ›

“The occupational profile is a summary of a client's (person's, group's, or population's) occupational history and experi- ences, patterns of daily living, interests, values, needs, and relevant contexts” (AOTA, 2020, p. 21).

Who is considered the father of occupational therapy? ›

William Rush Dunton Jr. is known as the “father of OT”. He was a psychiatrist and educator. Dr. Dunton published the first account of the Occupational Therapy profession.

What OTPF 4? ›

The fourth edition of the Occupational Therapy Practice Framework: Domain and Process (hereinafter referred to as the OTPF–4), is an official document of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA).

What is OTPF? ›

Occupational therapy practice framework for oral health. Occupational therapy practice is guided by the Occupational Therapy Practice Framework (OTPF). 3. The OTPF is based on the International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health (ICF).

What causes occupational imbalance? ›

Lack of opportunities to participate in leisure or productivity occupations also causes occupational imbalance.

What are the examples of occupational activities? ›

Occupation includes all the activities or tasks that a person performs each day. For example, getting dressed, playing a sport, taking a class, cooking a meal, getting together with friends, and working at a job are considered occupations.

What is functional mobility in occupational therapy? ›

Functional mobility explains the ability of a person to move around in his/her environment, including the home environment. This includes walking, standing up from a chair, sitting down from standing, and scooting along moving around in bed.

What is volition in occupational therapy? ›

Volition is defined as a person's motivation for participating in occupation. The concept of 'volition' expands similar concepts and theories, which focus mostly on cognitive processes that influence motivation.

What is Ocairs assessment? ›

Summary: The OCAIRS provides a structure for gathering, analyzing, and reporting data on the extent and nature of an individual's occupational participation.

What is adaptation in occupational therapy? ›

Occupational adaptation is a concept used within occupational therapy to describe the process and/or outcome of the interaction between the person, occupation, and environment in response to occupational challenge [1.

What is an activity analysis? ›

The process of identifying and cataloging activities for detailed understanding and Documentation of their characteristics. An activity analysis is accomplished by means of interviews, group sessions, questionnaires, observations, and reviews of physical records of work.

What is the point of an occupational profile? ›

The occupational profile helps create a summary portrait of a client viewed as an occupational being, organizes the evaluation around the activities the client wants to do but has difficulty with or cannot do, and frames the process of inductive reasoning.

What is occupational performance analysis? ›

Occupational performance analysis is a way of observing a person perform an occupation to determine what is supporting or hindering them being able to participate to his/her desired level.


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