Friday, February 26, 2010

OTs are the "Must Have" new fad!


Jeff sent me this article
link from Wednesday's edition of the New York Times about my former profession, pediatric occupational therapy (on the Fashion and Style section, of all things)!

In a nutshell, upper-class parents are hiring occupational therapists (OTs) to give their children a boost in fine motor and visual motor/perceptual skills (like handwriting, scissor skills, copying figures, etc.), often so they can get into an ultra-competitive nursery school or kindergarten. Additionally, many otherwise typical children are having difficulty with fine motor skills, partly due to a heavy academic push without time for normal "child's play" which builds these fundamental areas.

I have seen this firsthand, working as a pediatric OT for over six years, four of which were mostly school-based. My college thesis was actually on the role of extracurricular activities as it infringed upon free-play opportunities! Parents were often surprised when I explained to them that normal "childish" behaviors like crawling and playing in squishy/wet/sandy material is crucial for intrinsic muscle and sensory development.

It's nice to know therapy is no longer regarded as only for those with "something wrong". However, I never had the honor of being employed solely to give a privileged child an advantage!

Quoting from the article, one father from the Upper East Side says:

“Even with the economy like it is, the hottest question when we socialized at our country house this summer was not what country club do you belong to, but who is your child’s O.T. back in the city. And how can I get an appointment?”

Jeff is ever the entrepreneur; I'll let him know if he gets tired of Alabama, we can always move to Manhattan!

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