How Can an Occupational Therapist Support Students in the Classroom?
If a student has disabilities that prevent them from physically participating in daily activities that are important to their success in the classroom and with their peers, then an occupational therapist may be helpful. In a school setting, an OT may be recommended for a student who:
- Has difficulty manipulating tools, such as scissors and pencils
- Has difficulty drawing and writing legibly
- Has a diminished ability to attend to tasks and organize work due to sensory processing issues
- Has difficulty performing self-care skills (Activities of Daily Living or ADLs) that are necessary in a school setting
Services Provided by Occupational Therapists
At PTS, we’re here to help you and your students. So, if you need an OT for your team, we’ll offer support at every step, from initial assessment and ongoing care to eventual discharge as applicable. This includes:
- Assistance with initial screenings, evaluations, and goal setting
- Assistance with early intervention in a Multi-Tiered Support System (MTSS) approach
- Assistance with Individualized Education Program (IEP) teams and accommodations
- Outcome evaluations to ensure that goals are being met
- Making adjustments to student treatment plans as necessary
- Partnering with school districts to help students meet academic achievement standards
We also provide ongoing assistance for older students who may be preparing to transition out of school. This includes assisting students in practicing adult life skills that they’ll need in their daily lives once they enter the workforce.
Occupational Therapists and Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants
In addition to occupational therapists, you may want to add Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants (COTAs) to your students’ IEP team. OTs are practitioners who are responsible for all aspects of occupational therapy service. They also design treatment plans.
COTAs, on the other hand, work under the supervision of an OT to help implement that plan. PTS places both OTs and COTAs within our partnering school districts.
What is Occupational Therapy?
“Occupations” refer to daily activities that students need to perform in the classroom, like playing, learning, socializing, and hygiene. By addressing the physical, cognitive, psychosocial, and sensory components that are limiting a student from performing daily activities, occupational therapists can improve a student’s ability to participate in their education.
OT also improves a student’s ability to perform Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) that are vital to the classroom, like personal hygiene, putting away classroom supplies and materials, and eating.
Adding an OT to Your Related Services Team
If your school or program requires an occupational therapist to support your students, then you’ll want to ensure that you’re hiring OTs and COTAs with the appropriate credentials and experience. Generally, OTs must successfully complete the following to be licensed in most states:
- An accredited occupational therapy program
- Supervised fieldwork
- A national certification examination
You’ll also want to consider how many OTs and COTAs you’ll need to hire. The exact number will be unique to your school’s specific needs and is dependent on your therapists’ schedules and caseloads. Using a data collection and management software like our BudgetWatch™ Summary Reports can help you determine how to use resources most effectively.
Hire an Occupational Therapist for Your School
Pediatric Therapeutic Services can help you add highly qualified occupational therapists to your related services team. If you’re interested in learning how we can help you support your students and improve your special education program all while minding your budget, reach out to us today!