What is Occupational Therapy?


Occupational therapy, or OT for short, is a therapy that helps people achieve independence in all facets of their lives. Most people think of occupational therapy as a treatment for adults that helps them get back to work, but that is a very narrow definition. “Occupation” refers to managing all the activities important for independent living. For children, their main job is playing, learning and doing age appropriate activities of daily living (e.g. dressing, eating, bathing). If your child has physical or cognitive disabilities, occupational therapy goals can be defined to help your child improve their ability to function in these areas. 

How does Occupational Therapy (OT) Differ from Physical Therapy (PT)?

Physical therapy and occupational therapy can be confused with each other. Physical therapy deals with the issues of pain, strength, joint range of motion, endurance, and gross motor functioning, whereas occupational therapy deals more with fine motor skills, visual-perceptual skills, cognitive skills, and sensory-processing deficits. Both types of therapy help children improve the quality of their lives.

Which Insurance Plans Cover Occupational Therapy?

Occupational therapy is a skilled health, rehabilitation and education service that is covered by many private insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, early intervention and school programs. You should check your specific insurance coverage to make sure the program you are considering is covered and to what extent.

Find Support

Looking for more tips on effective treatments for your child?

Visit the My Child Without Limits support community and talk to fellow parents, caregivers, and experts about their experiences with the treatments and therapies in this section.


Check out our Resource Locator to find the government and non-government agencies that can provide the services that your child needs.