In its simplest terms, occupational therapists help people across the lifespan participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities (occupations).
Common occupational therapy interventions include helping children with disabilities to participate fully in school and social situations, helping people recovering from injury to regain skills, and providing supports for older adults experiencing physical and cognitive changes.
There is this massive book OT’s use Willard & Spackman’s Occupational Therapy. I have the twelfth edition and some of this comes from that book.
To be human is to be occupational. To know what occupation is, it is necessary to examine what humans do with their time, how such activities are organized, what purposes they serve, and what they mean for individuals and society.
Personal experience of doing occupation, whether consciously attended to or not, provides a fundamental understanding of occupation–what it is, how it happens, what it means, what is good about it, and what is not.
We all need to be reminded from time to time that if you are not part of the future then get out of the way.
I heard a grandmother talk about how she hated that her grandchildren did not communicate with her unless made to do so by their parents. The grandmother wanted to turn back time to the good dope days where children were mindful.
The parents did their best to teach their children to be respectful of their elders and made the children call the grandparents once a week. But making someone do something against their will breeds resentment.
And those weekly Sunday night phone calls were an awful experience for all.
The parents had to herd up the children, dial the phone and stand guard as the children took a turn saying “hello Grandma” and then cringe as they responded to their grandmother with “yes” “no” “I don’t know” with a teenage hint of resentment enunciated with each reply.
For a long time the grandmother resisted reflecting on her role in this situation. Maybe it was pride or perhaps it was fear of becoming old and outdated that kept her so stubborn.
Then one day she was given a smartphone with a one month contract. She was told like it or not a major part of her grandchildren’s lives is digital socialization. And one of their major occupations is caring for, and socializing on a smartphone.
She was taught how to text and she dropped the stubborn negative thoughts of her grandchildren and began to communicate with them in this new form.
The grandchildren loved the 160 character messages from their grandmother. And no longer a chore assigned by their parents, they developed a digitally meaningful and gratifying relationship.
What was most rewarding, the parents no longer needed to force the children to call their grandmother, they spontaneously called her.
If she was able to reflect on the problem the grandmother might have seen her grandchildren are living a world apart from her good dope days. And what the grandmother needed was knowledge of the rules and techniques needed to communicate with these digitized grandchildren in their LED world.