Getting Help From
Getting Help From School-Based OT's
School-based OTs often have ingenious ways to help your child thrive at school. A school-based OT may provide direct services to your child simply be available on a consultation basis. The mode of service delivery must be specified in your child’s IEP.
Here are some of the ways in which school-based OTs help kids in the classroom, lunchroom, playground, gym, art room, music room, computer lab and elsewhere at school.
Handwriting (“graphomotor”) difficulties, often due to decreased hand strength and stability or impaired proprioceptive processing (pressing too hard or too lightly). Poor writing can also be related to visual processing problems and/or motor planning issues (difficulty developing and carrying out a sequence of movements, also known as apraxia or dyspraxia).
Transition difficulties, such as going from the noisy cafeteria or playground into a quieter activity, can be very challenging for kids with sensory issues.
Playground and physical education issues, including how to use equipment appropriately. An OT may help your child build core strength and endurance, and may show a student how to calm down and transition to quiet activities after intense movement input such swinging or participating in sports causes her to become hyperactive and unfocused.
Focusing, attending, and staying organized. A sensory smart OT can help a child learn how to calm and organize his system so that he can better focus and attend to learning.
Difficulties with specialty classes. The routines and environments in special classes such as physical education, art, music, and computer lab can be challenging. Such classes often involve extra background noise (e.g., classmates talking and moving at once) as well as unpleasant odors (e.g., arts and craft supplies) or irritating sounds (e.g., musical instruments or off-key singing). An OT can help a student and specialty teacher develop solutions to these issues, and you'll find many suggestions in Raising a Sensory Smart Child.
If your child receives OT at school, consider where the services will be provided. If the service is “pull out,” it means the OT removes your child from the classroom to work in a separate location. That’s great for working on skill development and doing more intense sensory diet work. Be sure, however, to ask the OT visit your child in the classroom too so she can identify and address any needs in the actual room where most of the day is spent. If your child is mandated for “push in” OT services, it means the OT works with your child in the actual classroom. Ask the OT whether she is able to effectively build your child’s skills while in the classroom, and how she can help your child to not feel singled out. Keep in mind that the school-based OT really does want to hear from parents. She would love to hear what you’ve already discovered works well for your child!
BUY Raising a Sensory Smart Child and learn more about sensory smarts at school.