Occupational Therapy, as a profession, focuses on promoting participation and completion of daily activities, whether they be work, leisure or self-care activities. Occupational therapy in a pediatric sense focuses on promoting developmental milestones, social and emotional well-being and independence in everyday tasks, whether it be at home or in the school.
Occupational therapists are also part of the educational system in the school setting, working in collaboration with educators and other therapy services. Their work allows children to develop the skills needed to perform to their best potential in their academic settings. Occupational therapists, and occupational therapy assistants, help a child in establishing academic and non-academic skills, including critical thinking skills, flexibility, self-regulation, social-emotional well-being, social skills, participation in sports and at recess, self-help skills and more. These skills are crucial as children spend a majority of their life in the roles of student, peer and friend.
Throughout the school year, children are screened and assessed in their natural environments to promote overall academic wellness. When educationally necessary, therapy services are set forth through an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or through a 504, both of which are funded and administered by the state. OTs in this setting have specific knowledge and expertise to appropriately address a child’s needs within the realm of his/her IEP or 504 plan.
Occupational Therapists are trained to:
- Observe a student in his/her setting and facilitate the student’s full participation.
- Provide assistive technology as needed to promote academic and social performance.
- Reduce barriers within the classroom to facilitate full access to the classroom and supplies.
- Identify short-term and long-term goals for academic outcomes.
- Provide suggestions for alternative and supported assessment methods, including homework completion and testing.
- Promoting overall motor, social and emotional development.
- Developing age-appropriate executive functioning skills, including increasing attention, problem-solving skills, and memory.
The idea of therapy services in the school setting may be daunting but rest assured, these services are individualized to allow children to thrive and perform to the best of their potential.
NSPT offers Occupational Therapy services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!