Occupational Therapists use purposeful activities to develop and restore functional skills. The field of OT is broad and involves training in anatomy and physiology, human development across the life span, physical and developmental disabilities, psychiatrics and social/emotional disorders and intervention techniques for children and adults.
In the school setting, OT is a related service to support an IEP or 504 Plan for a student with a medical condition that impacts school performance.
The following is an overview of skill areas that may be addressed by and OT in the school systems:
Fine Motor Skills related to use of the small muscles of the body, particularly the hands. Children need adequate dexterity, strength and coordination to manage a variety of objects in school.
Coordination also relates to the use of the muscles of the body, especially the use of the two sides of the body together (bilateral coordination), the ability to control the upper body (postural control) and the ability to plan and initiate motor actions (motor planning).
Visual Motor/Handwriting skills are needed to form basic shapes, letters, and numbers. Eye- hand coordination and visual perception skills are also needed for successful writing, cutting and drawing.
Sensory Processing is our ability to make sense of all sensory experiences. An OT can evaluate a child’s ability to process, organize and use sensory information (sound, movement, body position, vision, touch, smell & taste). Problems in any of these areas can make daily activities in school challenging.
Self-care Skills relate to dressing, grooming, hygiene, eating, and safety awareness. An OT can evaluate self-care needs in school, and assist to develop a plan to increase independence.
Vocational Skills relate to the development of skills needed to seek volunteer or paid jobs. OT’s can assist the team to modify job tasks to increase a student’s success.
In the school setting, an OT collaborates with teachers, families and other team members to promote student success in school. Services are individualized to meet your child’s specific needs.