Occupational Therapy Services
- Our services
- Professional Learning
School-age occupational therapy services provide our component districts with expertise and staff to meet the functional occupational therapy needs of their students. Occupational therapy services at school focus on the skills a child needs to safely access and participate in the educational environment and to make progress in their areas of specially designed instruction.
Occupational therapy is a service that supports the student’s special education program. Therapists consult and collaborate with the student’s educational team to develop and implement strategies that allow the student to access and participate more successfully in their educational settings throughout the school day.
Occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants provide consultation to educators, parents, and students who need assistance. The consultation process provides therapists with flexibility to focus on changing needs of students over the course of the year using a variety of methods. Consultation occurs in the educational environment that the student needs to access.
The focus of consultation can include a variety of activities and interventions, including direct instruction of functional skills, coaching, modeling, adaptations to environment or task, and demonstrating needed skills. Consultation also occurs through attendance at IEP team meetings and participation in planning for accommodations, information sharing and systems supports. Therapists communicate with outside medical providers and facilitate the use of assistive technology and equipment.
Within dedicated consultation time, the occupational therapy staff provide direct instruction to students while working in the context of modeling and coaching skills for classroom staff. In some districts, on occasion and for a specific student, the occupational therapy staff will provide targeted, limited-term skill instruction in an area that the team has identified as a key foundational skill best taught using this mode.
Occupational therapists evaluate the functional skills of students with disabilities using tools designed to identify strengths and barriers that the student experiences to accessing and participating in their educational environment. Occupational therapists can participate in evaluations in a variety of ways. They can use standardized assessments, functional assessments, observational information and input from classroom and school staff to describe current levels of functioning, document progress, and identify barriers and areas of need. If functional limitations are found to significantly affect school performance, the occupational therapist provides recommendations regarding access, safety, and participation with the focus on functional skills and adaptations for participating in the school and learning environment.
In the context of their consultation work, occupational therapy staff provide ongoing student-specific and general professional development to classroom staff. Occupational therapy practitioners are motivated by a commitment to role-release, building the capacity of those who work with students every day in their ability to incorporate the concepts and techniques of occupational therapy into their teaching.
Occupational therapists and assistants also provide topic-specific training to district staff as needed and requested.
Training topics can include:
- The service model: how to get the most benefit from your occupational therapist
- Early handwriting instruction: why it’s important and how to do it
- Fine motor skills needed for classroom participation in paper/pencil/scissor tasks.
- Accommodations that may benefit a student’s access
- Adaptive methods for students to complete self-help and self-care tasks
- Guidance towards safe eating within school settings.
- Assistive technology
- Systems level supports/strategies to benefit all learners
Occupational and Motor Video Resource Library
Simple and Easy Occupational Therapy Tips
Meet Our Team
Margaret Brown, Coordinator for Motor and Nursing Services, Regional Equipment Center
Cathy Jensen, Executive Director of Special Education K-12