Terms Defined: OT

Term AKA Definition
Occupational Therapy OT Occupational therapy is an intervention that assists individuals in their ability to perform life (or desired) tasks. In the school-based setting, occupational therapists work with students to help them access their school-based “occupations” - such as using their hands and eyes together for tasks like writing and regulating their sensory systems so they can participate in the classroom
Vestibular System Motion, Balance The vestibular system is a sensory system that is in charge of spatial orientation. It allows us to receive, perceive and process the position of our head in relation to gravity and pace of movement. It also helps us coordinate the use of our left and right sides of our body, known as bilateral coordination. It is also is associated with the visual system for tracking objects.
Proprioception System Body awareness The proprioceptive system gives us awareness of our body in space. It receives input from muscles and joints to give us body awareness such as body position and pressure placed on our body and by our body (grading pressure).
Tactile System Touch The sensory system that is associated with the sense of touch. It helps us discriminate the size, shape, orientation, texture and temperature of an object using receptors on our skin.
Auditory System Hearing The system that allows us to receive, perceive and process sounds
Visual System Vision The system associated with receive, perceive and process sights
Fine Motor FM Fine motor refers to the use of the small muscles in the hand and arm to make precise controlled movements. Fine motor skills are required for tasks such as using zippers, buttons, opening and closing containers, writing, and beading.
Visual Motor VM Visual motor skills refer to the ability of the eyes to translate what it sees into a motor response. This skill is also associate with eye-hand coordination. It is required for tasks such as writing, copying models, and playing video games
Visual Perception VP The ability of our visual system to accurately perceive objects and the environment. It includes the ability to discriminate size, shape, orientation, background vs. foreground, and dimensionality
Grasp pattern The habitual way an individual uses their hands to manipulate a tool for control, ie - a typical grasp pattern for a pencil is dynamic tripod, Refer here to see different grasp patterns
Sensory Processing A term referring generally sensory information such as sensory integration, modulation, and regulation
Sensory Integration SI The ability of the neurological system to appropriately select, perceive, and process information from the environment
Ideation The ability to come up with an action to be performed given a situation. For example, seeing blocks and coming up with the idea to stack them
Sensory Modulation Generating sensory responses that are graded to the incoming environmental inputs
Sensory Regulation The ability of the Central Nervous System to correctly orient its response to be able to attend to a specific environmental input
Adaptive response A successful response to an environmental challenge
Postural stability The ability of the torso to maintain a position so that the extremities (legs and arms) can move and function without the individual losing balance
Gravitational Insecurity A pattern of fearful reactions to movement, especially when there is a change in head position and an upward or background movement. For example: fear tilting head back for washing hair, anxious about stairs and escalators, refusing to use playground apparatus, difficulty with swings – trying to keep feet on the ground while swinging, etc. This is due to an over-responsiveness of the vestibular system
Postural Insecurity Similar to gravitational insecurity, this is also a fearful reaction to movement; however this is due to a lack of motor control and are based on the child’s realistic appraisal of their motor skills
Tactile Defensiveness Hesitation and fear of touching different textures and materials including glue, glitter, paint, sand, cold or hot items, etc. due to hyperresponsiveness of the sensory system
Praxis Motor planning The ability to generate an idea about how to complete a novel task including generating the idea of what to do (planning) and how to complete the steps (sequencing)
Dyspraxia A deficit in motor planning, often as a result of a sensory system dysfunction
Upper Extremity UE The upper extremity refers to the arms, from the fingertips to the shoulder.
Bilateral Coordination The ability of the left and right sides work separately and together for completing tasks, actions can be symmetrical or complementary examples including carrying a ball with two hands, completing jumping jacks, cutting with one hands while stabilizing and rotating paper with the other hand
Crossing Midline The ability of the a leg or arm to move to the opposite side of the body. For example, reaching for an object on the left side of your desk with your right arm.
In-Hand Manipulation The ability to move objects around within the hand such as moving a coin up from the palm to the fingertips and back, and the ability to turn a pencil around in the hand for erasing
Near point models Models typically within 1-5 feet, such as looking at a piece of paper from a desk
Far point models Models usually over 5 feet away, such as copying words from a classroom board from a student seat in the middle of a classroom
W-sitting A position where an individual sits with their knees bent and turned away from their body. This position is discouraged because it places abnormal pressure on the hips and knees and leads to a condition known as tibial torsion which can cause lifelong muscular consequences.

How Occupational Therapy is Delivered in School
Guide to OT Assessments
Terms Defined: In the IEP