What are some of the most common related services used in schools?

Page 6: Occupational Therapy Services

Occupational TherapyA primary goal of occupational therapy (OT) is to support a student’s participation in school-related routines and activities, such as zippering a coat, completing a classroom assignment, or playing during recess. Occupational therapy practitioners identify the student’s strengths, as well as his or her challenges, during all educational activities, whether they take place in the lunchroom, classroom, or playground. They are experts in looking at the student holistically and assessing his or her activity performance in terms of its components: cognitive, sensory, motor, perceptual, and social-emotional. They are skilled in analyzing and modifying activities and environments so that they are conducive to learning and social participation. Students who receive OT services are those who might be facing difficulties with:

  • Completing classroom assignments
  • Organizing classroom materials and workspaces
  • Manipulating objects or materials (e.g., scissors, paintbrush, pencil)
  • Turning pages in a book
  • girl playing in sandPerforming self-help skills (e.g., putting coats on or taking them off, changing for gym class, pulling pants up or down for toileting)
  • Feeding themselves (e.g., holding a spoon, chewing food, avoiding foods for sensory reasons)
  • Attending to tasks or following directions (e.g., in cases in which the student is easily distracted by things in the environment)
  • Taking notes in class or writing legibly
  • Tolerating sensory input (e.g., the student might have aversion to some textures, tastes, or sounds)
  • Carrying out tasks that involve visual-perceptual skills (e.g., tracking text when reading so as not to skip words or lines, visually identifying important information in text or on worksheets)
  • Participating socially (e.g., developing peer relationships, turn-taking abilities)
  • Transitioning from one environment to another (e.g., high school to post-secondary job or college)
Occupational Therapists

Qualified Providers:

For an occupational therapist or an occupational therapy assistant (OTA), who works under the supervision of an OT, to be qualified, he or she must a college degree that ranges from an associate’s degree for an OTA to a master’s or doctorate degree for have an OT. To be qualified to provide services, both OTs and OTAs must pass a national certification exam.

Roles: OTs and OTAs are experts in analyzing and modifying tasks and environments (e.g., classroom, playground, lunchroom) so that students with disabilities can learn and actively participate during the school day. By providing accommodations or by making adjustments to or redesigning the activity, OTs help students’ access curricular and extracurricular activities.

National Professional Organizations: The American Occupation Therapy Association, Inc. http://www.aota.org.

Occupational Therapy Services in Action: A Real Life Story

Heather Grinage, a school-based practitioner, provides occupational therapy services to a young student with low muscle tone who is having difficulty participating in the self-care activities that are necessary for her school success.

Watch the video below to see how OT is provided for this young student in the lunchroom (time: 1:33).

View Transcript

Listen as Heather Grinage furthers describes how she collaborates with teachers to provide assistance with adapted equipment for the young student in the video above (time: 2:12).

View Transcript
the OT’s Corner
Sandra Schefkind, MS, OTR/L
Pediatric Coordinator
American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA)
Bethesda, MD
Listen as Sandra Schefkind describes school-based occupational therapy:

Supporting students’ participation academically and socially
(time: 2:21)
Providing services in the least-restrictive environment
(time: 1:59)

Examples: supporting students who have challenges with:

(time: 2:34)
Transition needs
(time: 2:10)
Sensory issue
(time: 2:22)

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