School based occupational therapy
School based occupational therapists help their students access their curriculum and participate in school to the best of their ability, regardless of any disabilities, differences, or environmental challenges they may face. For students with fine motor delays, this may look like working on handwriting so that they can efficiently and legibly complete written assignments. For other students, it may look like finding self-regulation or sensory strategies to help with attention and participation challenges. My personal favorite is when our sessions look like arts and crafts; these sessions can be beautiful and fun plus an amazing way to target fine and visual motor needs. While in this setting, the occupational therapy goals will always relate back to accessing some element of school, there is still a wide variety of areas that can be encompassed.
What skills or areas can OTs help with?
How does that work in distance learning?
In distance learning, we continue to do just that! Instead of using sensory tools at school to self-regulate, we are building a “tool-box” of sensory items at home (i.e. blankets, squishy balls, play doh, etc.). Instead of practicing copying sentences from a real whiteboard, we are practicing copying sentences from a virtual “Zoom whiteboard.” And instead of promoting socio-emotional skills through peer interactions on the playground, we are playing turn-taking virtual games and role playing how to react and respond to what a peer said over a Zoom. For me, this has been one of the more fun challenges of virtual occupational therapy, finding games that translate easily to Zoom like Tic-Tac-Toe, Connect Four, or “Snakes.”
True, the environment and resources have changed, but the service goal is the same: to help students access their curriculum in spite of any obstacles they face, including and not limited to, a pandemic.