Occupational Therapy in the school setting deals with the child's occupation, or functional performance at school. A child's occupation at school is to learn and function as independently as possible during all parts of the school day. When the child experiences difficulty in these areas and the difficulty is due to a deficit in a pre-requisite or "foundation skill", the child may qualify to receive OT services. These foundation skills range from physical dysfunction, visual perceptual motor deficits or sensory processing issues.
Occupational therapists (OT’s) can provide direct and indirect services to students as requires to meet their educational objective as outlined on the IEP these services which are provided to students, school staff, and families may include all of the following service as listed below:
- Helping school teams devise strategies and adaptive aids in order to improve school performance, and to include students with disabilities in school activities.
- Helping teachers understand the sensory motor aspects of school activities such as writing, eating, and handling materials, in order to address problems in those areas.
- Developing activities to improve fine motor control, to improve oral motor control for feeding, or to promote sensory motor development (body awareness, postural control, eye-hand coordination).
- Explaining how a student’s medical or sensory motor problems will affect school performance.
- Suggesting modifications to school activities and the school environment.
- Adapting materials for use in school.
- Referring a student for an assistive technology consultation.
- Recommending consultation with adapted physical education specialists.
- Helping to set realistic expectations for the student’s Performance.
- Monitoring the effectiveness of therapeutic modifications and accommodations carried out by school personnel.
- Exploring and monitoring seating and positioning adaptations to increase independence and participation in school activities. Example: extra support to allow control for writing or cutting tasks.
- Exploring modifications to school activities. Example: adapting worksheets and using materials that are easier to handle or to control.
- Exploring individualized adaptations of school materials to increase independence and school participation. Example: adapting feeding utensils, pencils, or scissors.
- Developing a program of therapeutic activities to support a student’s performance in the educational environment. Example: hand strengthening activities for writing, cutting, or opening containers.
- Training school staff in techniques for handling, feeding, or helping student use special equipment and then monitoring use of the techniques.
- However, on many occasions students are denied School based OT intervention because it is argued these services that are not required for a student to benefit from their educational program.
Let us use our insider knowledge to make the best case as to why without these critical service your child will have difficulty achieving their IEP goals and thereby require this related service so that they can benefit form their special educational programming.