April is OT Month!

April 21, 2016

hannah_picLittle kids always dream about what they want to be when they grow up. It often includes saving people out of burning buildings as a fireman or finding cures for diseases as a doctor. One profession that I did not even know existed as a child was occupational therapy, but what a wonderful profession I was oblivious too. The American Occupational Therapy Association states that “occupational therapists and occupational therapists assistants help people across the lifespan participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities (occupations).” The profession of occupational therapy actually emerged from the benefit that nurses and psychiatrists realized patients were receiving from engaging in meaningful activities while on bed rest. It was discovered that these activities eased nervous tension and gave patient’s purpose and meaning. The profession was officially founded in 1917 as the National Society for the Profession of Occupational Therapy with arts and crafts at the center. Ceramics and woodworking were actually taught in early occupational therapy curriculums.

The profession of occupational therapy has greatly emerged and changed since that time. Trust me,
woodworking is no longer part of the curriculum. The rehabilitation movement began to greatly expand with the end of World War II and the profession began to move more to the medical model and put less emphasis on arts and crafts. Occupational therapy is becoming a widely known therapy with therapist’s working across the lifespan in a variety of settings including: NICU nurseries, schools, outpatient clinics, hospitals, and nursing homes to name a few.

Although I did not learn about the profession of occupational therapy until later in life, (I was actually a business in major in college) I am so glad that I did. I look forward to going to my job every day where I get to use “play” as a way for children to reach their goals. Being a therapist, no matter if it is an occupational, physical, or speech therapist, is one of the most rewarding professions. The profession of occupational therapy is now nearing their 100 th year of existence and they are continuing to strive to meet their centennial vision which is: “We envision that occupational therapy is a powerful, widely recognized, science-driven, and evidence-based profession with a globally connected and diverse workforce meeting society’s occupational needs.” I hope that we are meeting more and more of society’s occupational needs and that you are beginning to realize the importance of this wonderful profession. Enjoy occupational therapy month!

Receptive Language (Hearing and Understanding)

Birth–3 Months

Startles to loud sounds
Quiets or smiles when spoken to
Seems to recognize your voice and quiets if crying
Increases or decreases sucking behavior in response to sound

4–6 Months

Moves eyes in direction of sounds
Responds to changes in tone of your voice
Notices toys that make sounds
Pays attention to music

7 Months–1 Year

Enjoys games like peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake
Turns and looks in direction of sounds
Listens when spoken to
Recognizes words for common items like “cup”, “shoe”, “book”, or “juice”
Begins to respond to requests (e.g. “Come here” or “Want more?”)

Expressive Language (talking)

Birth–3 Months

Makes pleasure sounds (cooing, gooing)
Cries differently for different needs
Smiles when sees you

4–6 Months

Babbling sounds more speech-like with many different sounds, including p, b and m
Chuckles and laughs
Vocalizes excitement and displeasure
Makes gurgling sounds when left alone and when playing with you

7 Months–1 Year

Babbling has both long and short groups of sounds such as “tata upup bibibibi”
Uses speech or noncrying sounds to get and keep attention
Uses gestures to communicate (waving, holding arms to be picked up)
Imitates different speech sounds
Has one or two words (hi, dog, dada, mama) around first birthday, although sounds may not be clear


Gross motor skills involve the larger muscles in the arms, legs and torso. Gross motor activities include walking, running, throwing, lifting, kicking, etc. These skills also relate to body awareness, reaction speed, balance and strength. Here are general guidelines for gross motor development for children ages 0 to 5 years.

3-4 months
Can raise head when pulled to sitting position

4 months
Rolls from back to side

5 months
Rolls from back to front

6 months
Can raise chest and upper part of abdomen (when on stomach)

7 months
Can bear weight on one hand while exploring with the other hand (when on stomach)

6-7 months
Sits alone

8-10 months

10-11 months
Cruises around furniture

9-12 months
Reaches actively for toy (when in sitting position)

11-12 months
Pulls to a standing position

15 months
Walks alone well
Squats and stands back up
Walks up and down steps holding hand

18 months
Can run, though falls easily

2 years
Walks and runs fairly well
Can jump with both feet
Can climb stairs without support
Can kick a ball

3 years
Can balance on one foot for a few seconds
Can broad jump 10-24 inches
Can catch a large ball

By 4 years
Can run, jump and climb well, is beginning to skip
Hops proficiently on one foot
Catches a ball reliably
Can ride a tricycle
Begins somersaults

By 5 years
Can skip on alternate feet and jump rope
Beginning to skate and swim
Climbing well