What is school-based Occupational Therapy?


School based Occupational Therapists work to ensure that the student can participate in the full breadth of school activities: paying attention in class, concentrating on a task, holding a writing implement correctly, using classroom tools, keeping their materials organized and accessing assistive technology. Occupational Therapists also provide needed adaptations and accommodations to access the school curriculum using both low and high tech methods.  

School Based OT can be performed in a variety of ways. Students can be pulled out of class for a group or individual therapy session or the therapist can push into the classroom during both academic and non-academic times in order to support the student in the context of the classroom environment. The OT can also provide consultation and support to teachers, support staff and aides.  Ideally, a student’s OT will incorporate a combination of these techniques into the student’s treatment plan in order to facilitate carryover of therapeutic strategies across school settings.

Specific skills worked on in OT include:


-Fine motor: grasp, manipulation, hand strength, pencil control -Visual Motor Integration: eye hand coordination, drawing, tracing, pre-writing and handwriting

-Bilateral Coordination: crossing midline, coordinating the 2 sides of the body

-Postural control: trunk strength, shoulder stability

-Motor Planning: carrying out novel motor tasks in a sequence

-Visual Perceptual: scanning, depth perception, visual discrimination

-Graphomotor: letter formation, orientation, spacing and overall organization

-Executive Function: sequencing, planning, working memory and higher level organizational skills -Sensory processing/Attention: classroom based strategies to improve and/or accommodate for these skills