Activities of Daily Living

Activities of daily living (ADL) are everything that we do from the time we get up in the morning until the time we go to bed at night.  This not only includes individual tasks such as getting dressed, making the bed, brushing teeth, grocery shopping and eating, but it also includes higher level skills such as scheduling your day, time management, planning ahead for appointments and managing personal finances and health; being involved in leisure activities and social activities; and problem-solving safety in the home and community.

Students with cognitive, sensory and motor impairments may have a difficult time carrying out required day-to-day tasks.  Difficulties with memory, organizing and sequencing tasks, endurance, attention, motor delays, coping skills, problem solving, visual perceptual skills and language impairments can impact a student's ability to be independent with skills typical of their age group.

Occupational therapists teach ADL skills to assist students with independence. Development of these skills increase as children age and mature. To help enhance skills in ADL, occupational therapists may use adaptive equipment such as a button hook to help a child who only has good coordination of one hand to button a shirt. Occupational therapists also teach large groups of skills such as dresssing through rehearsing components of the task, i.e. buttoning buttons, zipping zippers and practicing putting on and taking off a shirt, etc....

As children mature, they move from basic self-care skills such as getting dressed, toileting, grooming, bathing, playing and feeding to more advanced skills such as cooking, cleaning, completing work cycles, grocery shopping, budgeting, transportation, hobbies and taking care of one's medical needs.

The occupational therapist's goal is always to make individuals as independent and as safe as possible when performing day-to-day tasks. Through the use of compensatory strategies or through the use of adaptive equipment or rehearsal of skills, occupational therapists help guide students through tasks and helps them to achieve their highest level of independence for each area.

 

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