Abstract

The concept of occupational therapy as a “science of adaptive responses,” as proposed by King in her 1978 Eleanor Clarke Slagle Lecture, is explored and expanded on in this article. The authors postulate an adaptation continuum consisting of homeostatic reactions, adaptive responses, adaptive skills, and adaptive patterns—a continuum that places the adaptive response in a sequential and interdependent relationship to other human responses that serve an adaptive function. Assuming that authentic occupational therapy practice is “eliciting adaptive responses” (1), the authors use the continuum to delineate the domain of occupational therapy as compared to the primary concerns of other health disciplines and to indicate the nature of collaboration between them in areas that overlap. Finally, they draw attention to some of the issues and questions that emerge from the analysis.

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