A day in the life of an Occupational Therapist
Lots of people don’t really know what OTs do! So, I thought I would go through what a typical day looks like for me in the clinic, and out and about.
My day starts at about 8.30am, when I arrive at the clinic and gather what I need for the day. I might set up an obstacle course in the open studio area, especially if I am seeing a couple of younger clients.
My first client is usually a younger child, as mornings work best for the little ones – it is when they are fresh and ready to learn! A common focus for clients like this might be following instructions, developing fine motor skills, or building core muscles and gross motor development (using the bigger muscles to move the body). Usually, mum or dad (or both) will be at the session and joining in. I encourage parents to ask questions, and I explain what I am doing and why, so that parents can follow on with activities at home.
After that, I may see a young adult client with ASD (autism spectrum disorder). This session looks really different! Depending on the goals of the client, we may discuss an issue that has arisen over the week since their last session. Or we might play a game that helps to develop key areas like social skills or communication. If the client is working towards gaining employment or work experience, we might practice life skills such as preparing for an interview, or planning a CV.
Sometimes in the afternoon I may have a school visit, where I work individually with a student towards their goal. Commonly, this is something like increasing attention and concentration so they can complete their written work within class time. We might practice writing, using strategies for keeping focused that we have previously identified as useful. Or practice strategies for helping remember what we want to write.
Then it is back to the clinic for an after-school appointment. Many children with ASD come to their appointments after school as it can be helpful to maintain a consistent school routine. In this session, I might do a mix of activities, all working on a few goals at a time! For example, we might do 15 minutes of a pretend play activity, where the goals could include fine motor development, learning flexibility in play, and coping with change. Then we might do some work at the desk learning and practicing correct letter formations so the client can participate successfully in writing at school. Next, we might write a social story on a scenario that the client has had difficulty coping with (for example, appropriate playing in the playground at school).
As you can see, my days are busy, varied, and fun! This is just a snippet of what I do in a week, but hopefully it helps you to visualise what an OT actually does!