An occupational therapist (OT) may be found in either hospital or school settings. An OT assists children with the development of their fine-motor and sensory skills inside or outside of the classroom. Fine-motor skills refer to the movements of muscles used in a person’s fingers, hands, wrists, and arms. Some children may need assistance in increasing the strength and movement of those muscles to complete tasks. OTs may assist children with gripping pencils or eating utensils, handwriting and typing, sign language formation, cooking, dressing, and hygiene.
Sensory development may include improvement of visual perception or regulation of sensory stimulation. Visual perception is developed for purposes of dividing attention between people and tasks. For example, an OT can work with children who are deaf or hard of hearing (D/HH) to improve their ability to divide their visual attention between the interpreter, classmates, a teacher, writing notes, or reading and scanning a textbook. Children who are D/HH may also improve hand and eye coordination and self-regulation with the structure of their handwriting, such as correcting missed spaces between characters, key words, or grammar. Sensory stimulation can impact any of the five senses (vision, hearing, smell, taste, touch), as well as other sensory issues. Sensory regulation may include developing strategies for children who are hyper-sensitive to sensory input or for those who need improvement of their sensory awareness. OTs make adaptive tools to access tasks more easily.
These professionals collaborate with families, doctors, and the school team. It may be beneficial to share information between hospital OTs and school OTs if your child is receiving services in both locations. If you want OTs to share information, you will also need to fill out a release of that information, similar to what you would do with a doctor or medical professional. Your permission is required for the medical and educational professionals to share information about your child.