Love Children? Here are a Few Signs You Should Be a Pediatric Occupational Therapist
Do you love working with children and developing their full potential? Maybe you’re a current OT who’s considering a transition into pediatric occupational therapy, or perhaps you’re still in school and deciding how to focus your talents and passions into a fulfilling career – either way, a career in pediatric occupational therapy might be the right fit for you!
Some of the top areas that pediatric occupational therapy practices are found are within hospitals, physical therapy clinics, schools, community outreach programs and private pediatric care and development facilities. You can work part-time, full-time or PRN. You can work as an employee or as an entrepreneur, because the field is wide open to your personal application of how you want to practice pediatric occupational therapy.
In addition to many different locations and schedule options, there are a host of specific medical issues and challenges that pediatric occupational therapists face with their young clients. The Associates in Pediatric Therapy group shares a list of conditions and/or specialties within pediatric occupational therapy. It’s not exhaustive, but do any of these resonate? If so, you might be discovering your calling! The list includes:
- birth injuries or birth defects
- sensory processing disorders
- traumatic injuries (brain or spinal cord)
- learning problems
- autism/pervasive developmental disorders
- juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
- mental health or behavioral problems
- broken bones or other orthopedic injuries
- developmental delays
- post-surgical conditions
- spina bifida
- multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy and other chronic illnesses
Are you interested in providing some of the following solutions for children?
- Enhancing fine motor skills, e.g. grasping and releasing objects, legible handwriting skills, etc.
- Improving hand-eye coordination, e.g. playing and school skills
- Teaching basic tasks for kids with severe developmental delays, e.g. brushing teeth, feeding, bathing, getting dressed
- Normalizing behaviors in all environments for kids with behavioral disorders, e.g. managing anger, expressing feelings constructively and not destructively
- Evaluating the need for specialized equipment, e.g. communication aids, dressing devices, wheelchairs, bathing equipment, splints, etc.
- Working with and encouraging with kids who have sensory and attention issues
These are just some of the meaningful ways you could change a child’s life forever. The impact also extends to their families, teachers, friends and peers.
When you work with children, you inevitably work with families, too. A pediatric occupational therapist must possess certain soft skills that complement their clinical knowledge. They must have a passion for bridging the gap between what currently exists as that child’s reality and the expectations they – and their families – may have. Empathy is an essential element of successful pediatric therapy specifically because children have a need for development across the spectrum of human facets: emotionally, mentally, physically and even, at times, spiritually.
Here are some core components of people who experience great satisfaction working with children in a caregiving role and some questions that may lead you to recognize your potential in the field of pediatric occupational therapy.
Are you patient? Do you choose your words carefully in high stress situations? Are you understanding and compassionate? Are you consistent in your moods and disposition towards others?
Solid Energy Levels
Do you have extra energy for playing? For explaining things repeatedly? Are you physically capable of not only meeting a child’s need for activity, but surpassing that need so you can lead them into greater growth? Can you command a child’s attention?
Do you adapt well to different personalities and needs? Do you work well with parents who have different styles of parenting? Are you willing to adapt your approach for different families within your framework of clinical knowledge?
Great Communication Skills
Do you communicate clearly and openly? Are you able to express firm, but kind truths to people in difficult situations? Do you adapt your communication to the level of comprehension at hand? Are you a good listener who can go beyond what is being said to what is meant, as well? Are you nonverbally adept and thoughtful?
Do you actually enjoy, appreciate and love children? Do you feel compassion for kids? For families? Do you “envision yourself guiding, inspiring, and motivating them,” as one caregiving website describes it?
If you have answered yes to these questions and are excited about the possibility of forever improving a child’s life, then pediatric occupational therapist may be the right fit for you!The great news is that there are many resources for exploring and developing your pediatric occupational therapy practice! AOTA and the Associates in Pediatric Therapy provide insight and support for a fulfilling career in pediatric occupational therapy.