Happy Occupational Therapy month to our OT family out there!
And to all our non-OT followers, many of you know that we (Kim & Kary) are proud pediatric occupational therapists. We specialize in a niche area within occupational therapy but being OTs impacts our whole perspective on feeding, eating, swallowing and mealtime. The core of how we think about and address eating is a strong commitment to the value of eating as an “occupation.”
Let’s get something straight up front so we’re all on the same page: “occupation” is just an old-timey way of saying an activity that “occupies” your time. But don’t let that simplicity fool you. Occupational therapy has 100 years of theory & research which finds that the activities that occupy our time are what define us. Our daily occupations—no matter how simple and mundane—highlight what we value and significantly influence our health and well being. The science of that drives the practice of occupational therapy.
Eating clearly impacts health, and our food preferences often define us (we’re coffee and wine lovers!) but nutrition and foods are secondary when you look at eating as an occupation because it’s the doing (the mealtime, the routine, the activity) that’s important in part because you can’t get to the food and the nutrition without the act of eating and all the skills and nuances that go with eating but also because a whole other layer of nourishment and meaning is found in the mealtime. Mealtimes are so deeply tied up in love and social interactions, in belonging and communication which nourish our mental and physical health as much as the nutrition in the food. Especially so with small children and new parents.
We love the nuances of eating (breastfeeding, learning to chew, finding the right cup, figuring out how to use a fork, etc.) but we will always return to our foundation of occupation as OTs to ask ourselves, “what will make this child & this family function in a healthy and joyful way in the occupation of eating and mealtime?”
In honor of OT month, we will be sharing a bit more about what OTs do, why we do it, why we LOVE OT, & even some random OT facts- every Monday!
What’s your favorite thing about OT? Drop us a comment!