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The benefits of occupational therapy for teenagers

Adolescence is already a difficult time of emotional, physical and cognitive change for young people and this difficulty is compounded for those with disabilities. Luckily, occupational therapy for teenagers is a highly effective means of simplifying and enhancing the lifestyles of these developing individuals.

For non-disabled people, adolescence is a transitional period where they take on responsibilities and learn skills that enable them to enter adult roles in society. Many of these involve safely operating a motor vehicle, managing finances and engaging with other people to form relationships in social, professional and romantic contexts.

Occupational therapy for teenagers means that disabled people do not need to miss-out on learning the skills their peers are and allows them to grow into the best adult they can be. Whether the young person is facing physical, cognitive or emotional difficulties, OT’s (occupational therapists) can help them to live fulfilled and satisfactory lives.

Let’s take a look at the major benefits of professional occupational therapy for teenagers.

What is occupational therapy for teenagers?

Occupational therapy (OT) for teenagers involves OT’s using their training, skills and techniques to help the client complete activities that are important to living a satisfactory lifestyle. This means instructional lessons, practising skills, testing skills and modifying environments so that tasks can be performed easier.

These lessons do not only assist the client but work to train and equip family members and/or carers in how to help the client on a routine basis. This allows the skills and techniques that are taught to the client to be reinforced and improved on a habitual level, greatly speeding up outcomes.

OT works by focusing on activities that are also known as occupations. Contrary to popular belief, OT is not entirely about preparing people for work, although that can be part of it. In the context of OT these activities refer to anything that is an important part of life whether it is driving a car, shopping for groceries or making the bed.

These activities are subjective, affected by the passage of time and are universally important to all human beings. These 3 traits are inherent to all of the activities that OT’s help clients with.

An activity is subjective because it can hold different value and do different things for individual clients. For example, some may find shopping to be exciting while others may simply see it as a necessary chore.

An activity is affected by the passage of time because it changes its meaning at different stages of life. Shopping as a child has different meanings and import than the first time someone shops in a wheelchair.

An activity is considered universal because all types of people can benefit from performing that activity. For example doing a backflip isn’t universal, but sourcing groceries is.

What is the objective of occupational therapy for teenagers?

The primary objective of occupational therapy for teenagers is to help these adolescents live satisfying and fulfilled lives as independently as possible. This means developing the skills and techniques required for daily self-care and household maintenance.

An OT will be satisfied with their work once they witness their client independently and confidently engage with the occupations they have identified they want to work on. These goals can be long or short term and can change with varying circumstances and requirements.

An important thing to remember is that the OT’s are there to assist but not to control. They are trained to be incredibly courteous and patient with clients of any kind of disability and will only make suggestions but never choose things on behalf of the client. The government will also pay for some occupational therapy through the NDIS.