Sunday, November 20, 2011

Pull-Out vs. Inclusive O.T. in the School Setting

To all school-based OT's,
I had a great question from a fellow OT, Jackie, that I'd like to share with you all. Jackie is dealing with some challenges that many of us as school therapists face. (see below) If you have any input or suggestions, please comment below, or email your responses to me @ anne_ot (at) hotmail (dot) com and I'll post them. Thanks! 

Hi Anne,
I love your blog!  I am a school based OT for a district that is inclusive.  We are not supposed to be pulling students out of the classroom for special education services.  I am struggling with feeling productive while I'm in the classrooms.  A lot of times, I help my students with their writing assignments/center time, etc but I feel more like a teacher's aide vs an OT...  Are you struggling with this in your district?  Any suggestions for improving my effectiveness for handwriting/fine motor skills in the classroom?  I would also love any suggestions for sensory activities (alerting and calming) for both the classroom and the sensory room. 
Looking forward to hearing from you!
Thanks
Jackie

Response from Abby Brayton:
I think this is a very common experience for school-based OTs. In my experience, it takes some time to figure out the scheduling to make sure you're in the classroom at a time when you can work on something productive with the student. It also takes some time to establish rapport with the teachers and to get them on board with your suggestions.

With that said, I think teachers are more likely to follow through with something you recommend if they see it in action (this is especially true with pencil grips and adapted paper). For younger students, you can help the teachers set up fine motor centers. I've found teachers are often open to group handwriting lessons, using a curriculum such as Handwriting Without Tears. You might find out that the more time you spend in the classroom empowering the teacher, the less time students need direct OT services.

I found AOTA's self-paced clinical course "Collaborating for Student Success" to be helpful. If the course is too expensive, you can purchase only the book, for much less (you just don't get CEUs).
Good luck! 

Another Response:
I got a little smile on my face in reading your reader's comments about feeling like an aide. I recently had a very similar conversation with a colleague. What I decided to do, was come into class when the students are already writing one week and the next I plan a craft that focuses on the foundational skills needed for adequate handwriting skills. This way I get to see how the students are accessing activities involving written work and then offer any advice or suggestions that I have. Then the next week, we work on improving handwriting skills through more fun, play-based and motivational activities.

What Abby said about rapport building is the most important thing we can do in our practice, with both teachers and students. When you have good rapport, there is more "buy-in" from the teachers and generally more active participation with the students. If you are successful in building rapport, it will make your job easier.

2 comments:

  1. I think this is a very common experience for school-based OTs. In my experience, it takes some time to figure out the scheduling to make sure you're in the classroom at a time when you can work on something productive with the student. It also takes some time to establish rapport with the teachers and to get them on board with your suggestions.

    With that said, I think teachers are more likely to follow through with something you recommend if they see it in action (this is especially true with pencil grips and adapted paper). For younger students, you can help the teachers set up fine motor centers. I've found teachers are often open to group handwriting lessons, using a curriculum such as Handwriting Without Tears. You might find out that the more time you spend in the classroom empowering the teacher, the less time students need direct OT services.

    I found AOTA's self-paced clinical course "Collaborating for Student Success" to be helpful. If the course is too expensive, you can purchase only the book, for much less (you just don't get CEUs).

    Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I got a little smile on my face in reading your reader's comments about feeling like an aide. I recently had a very similar conversation with a colleague. What I decided to do, was come into class when the students are already writing one week and the next I plan a craft that focuses on the foundational skills needed for adequate handwriting skills. This way I get to see how the students are accessing activities involving written work and then offer any advice or suggestions that I have. Then the next week, we work on improving handwriting skills through more fun, play-based and motivational activities.

    What Abby said about rapport building is the most important thing we can do in our practice, with both teachers and students. When you have good rapport, there is more "buy-in" from the teachers and generally more active participation with the students. If you are successful in building rapport, it will make your job easier.

    ReplyDelete