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General overview

Occupational therapy originated in North America at the beginning of the 20th century under the influence of psychiatric doctors. It did not really develop in France until the 1950s.
The profession of occupational therapist is regulated by the Public Health Code (L4331-1 and R4331-1) and requires a 3-year training course set by the Ministries of Health and Higher Education.

Main objectives of the method
  • Occupational therapy helps to solve problems that prevent the patient from doing the things that are important to him or her. 

  • The aim of this therapy is to enable the child to be independent in everyday life, through learning and more psychological work, but also by adapting the environment. Occupational therapy often complements physiotherapy: the latter develops the child's abilities, while occupational therapy enables him or her to use them.

Specificities of the method

The occupational therapist first of all carries out an occupational therapy assessment of the child in his or her daily environment, observing his or her behaviour at school, in the nursery, at home... Then, he works on the basis of adapted situations in order to facilitate learning. He also gives advice on the design of the environment: use of a vibrating toothbrush for children who require a more intense sensory input; installation of tennis balls under the feet of chairs for children who have difficulty with noise, etc.
The number of occupational therapy sessions and the duration of this therapy depends entirely on the child. In general, sessions are stopped if it becomes clear that the child is no longer making progress towards his or her goals.

Who is this method for ?

This method is particularly aimed at children 

  • Having motor disorders, especially fine motor skills

  • Having sensory disturbances

  • With behavioural or autistic disorders, with sensory and motor needs

Scientific references
  • Occupational therapy home programs for cerebral palsy: double-blind, randomized, controlled trial, Iona Novak, Anne Cusick, Natasha A Lannin
    Eight weeks of the "home program" produced statistically significant differences in function and parental satisfaction with function compared to the non-program group. Paediatricians can inform families that programs implemented by parents at home were clinically effective if they were implemented 17.5 times per month for an average of 16.5 minutes per session.

  • A randomized controlled pilot study of the effectiveness of occupational therapy for children with sensory modulation disorder, Lucy Jane Miller, Joseph R Coll, Sarah A Schoen
    The results suggest that EO-IS may be effective in improving the difficulties of children with MSDs (sensory disorders).

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