What are OT, PT, and ST?

What is Occupational Therapy or OT?

Occupational Therapy (OT) focuses on the acquisition of basic, self-help skills required for daily living. Occupational Therapists are certified to use a variety of methods, which are designed to integrate the use of cognitive processing, sensory processing, and/or motor skills in the performance of basic tasks. Examples of OT goals for clients may include: learning to tie shoes, improving handwriting, self-grooming, self-dressing, self-feeding, independent use of the toilet, learning to give oneself appropriate sensory input, and other similar skills.

What is Physical Therapy or PT?

Physical Therapy (PT) focuses on the acquisition and/or improvement of skills related to gross motor movement, such as sitting, standing, walking, jumping, running, and lifting. Physical Therapists are certified to assess a client's current, physical abilities and limitations. A PT program may be comprised of various activities, exercises, and orthopedic equipment designed to improve the client's physical functioning and movement.

What is Speech-Language Therapy or ST?

Speech-Language Therapy (ST) focuses on the acquisition and use of language. A Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) may address the mechanics of speaking, as well as the social rules surrounding the use of verbal language. Modes of communication, which are considered verbal language and may be taught by an SLP, include, speaking with the voice, using signs and gestures, using a picture exchange system, or a combination of these.

Which therapies should my child be getting?

Your child should be receiving treatment for areas in which they are showing significant delays, by a professional who is titled, licensed, or certified in those areas. For example, if your child has fewer than 50 words at 24 months and cannot combine two-word utterances, you may want to seek out help from a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP).

If you are unsure whether or not your child is delayed in a particular area, your child's pediatrician may be able to help you. Your local regional center will also be able to help you to schedule an assessment for your child. You can obtain more information about the Westside Regional Center of Los Angeles, CA at the following link: http://www.westsiderc.org/. For other areas in the state of California, you can find information on http://dds.ca.gov/.

Do OT, PT, and ST ever cross over?

Many professionals choose to consult with a client's other therapists and integrate helpful components from those therapies. A therapist may schedule a co-treatment session, in order to discover ways of including auxiliary components from another discipline. For example, an Occupational Therapist (OT) may chose to consult with a Behaviorist, in order to learn which principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) might help her/him to address a lack of compliance during her/his sessions.

Although therapists may choose to incorporate aspects of other therapies, clients should only receive treatment in an area of need from a professional whose title, license, or certification qualifies them to provide therapy in that particular area. For example, an Occupational Therapist (OT) may use behavioral principles to increase a client's compliance with a handwriting task, but the OT's license does not qualify her/him to formally provide behavior intervention services.

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