I get asked time and time again by friends and family, what do I do? What is an OT? And what is an OT doing in the schools?
Occupational therapy (a.k.a. OT) is a holistic profession that helps people across the lifespan participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities, also known as “occupations”.* We use these occupations as both the intervention and outcome of therapy. Hence the name “occupational therapy”.
School OTs work on skills for children to be successful in the school setting. My therapeutic goals are always school related. I can work on handwriting, fine motor skills, visual motor skills, typing and using a computer, sensory processing, attention, organization, and more.
Occupational therapists work in a variety of settings. When I graduated from school I began my career in a sub-acute rehab facility. My dream was to always work in pediatrics, but I wanted rehabilitation experience first. This was a great job for me as a new grad; I was able to treat all sorts of diagnoses during my three years at that facility. Once my husband and I bought a house, my commute doubled and I started to drag underneath long days. I left around 7 am and was getting home after 5. My mood suffered and I was always fatigued.
After we got married in 2014, I decided it was time for a change. I wanted to be happier in my new marriage and happier in my career. I began looking for school jobs. In February 2015 I finally found a school OT position and haven’t looked back.
My days are shorter; in school we only work 7.5 hours a day. My commute had dramatically decreased to only 15 minutes! I am home early enough to take better care of Peyton and I get my runs in before Chris gets home allowing for more time spend together. On top of that, I love what I’m doing. Working with kids has been refreshing! Every day brings a new challenge and I feel like I am using more of my OT skills than I was in the sub-acute facility.
If you are unhappy with your job and are looking for a change, don’t wait! I wish I had switched earlier. It would have saved me stress and time. Do some soul searching (and job searching) to see what you are interested in and what jobs are available. This change was the best thing I could have done for myself and I am grateful every day for it.
Here are some great OT references and resources:
Mama OT has a GREAT blog on what occupational therapists do and lots of activities to do with your own child! I read and reread many of her posts when I first started my new school OT position!
The Anonymous OT is another wonderful blog direct from a working pediatric OT. The blogger is honest in her opinions and allows for her readers to have an honest and open discussion about OT.
April is OT month! If you have an OT in your life, reach out to them and thank them for the work they do!