Pediatric Therapy Partners

Understanding occupational therapy. What is it?

Simply stated, occupational therapy helps people participate in the occupations (or activities) that occupy their time each day. Notice how “occupations” is defined as activities, not jobs or careers. 

Occupations are the things we do each day that add meaning and value to our lives! So what exactly does this mean? Well, more specifically there are 9 areas of occupation.

The first 6 are the most common occupations we address in OT with children.

  1. Activities of Daily Living (ADLs): Activities you do on a daily basis related to taking care of yourself (i.e., dressing, bathing, eating, toileting, etc.)
  2. Play: Activities that are internally controlled and done out of personal interest. They provide entertainment, diversion, enjoyment, or humor. 
  3. Leisure: Similar to play, these activities are done out of personal interest during free time. They are non-obligatory.
  4. Education: Activities related to learning and engagement in an educational environment
  5. Rest and Sleep: Activities related to relaxing, preparing for sleep, and the act of sleeping
  6. Social Participation: Activities that involve interaction with others

These are the others!

  1. Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs): Activities that relate to daily participation in the home and community (i.e., caring for children, cleaning, grocery shopping, cooking, financial management, etc.)
  2. Health Management: Activities related to health and wellness routines (i.e., medication management, physical activity, nutrition, communication with healthcare providers, etc.)
  3. Work: Activities related to developing, producing, and managing objects or services. 

Occupational therapy focuses on addressing skills and environmental factors to improve clients’ participation in the occupations listed above! 

Questions? Contact me at, and I’d be happy to answer!


American Occupational Therapy Association. Occupational therapy practice Framework: Domain and process—Fourth Edition. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 2020(74), 1-87.