Tips for Parents on How to Work with Your School’s Occupational Therapist

School Occupational Therapy

Every child learns differently which means that children may need different interventions or tools to help them to be independent. This is where an occupational therapist at your child’s school can help. An occupational therapist (OT) in a school setting can help your child with such skills as writing letters, cutting with scissors, playing with other children, painting, eating snacks, washing their hands, sitting for activities, and walking in the hallway.

For some children it can be difficult to follow classroom expectations. An example of this may be when they are required, during circle time, to sit cross-legged (criss-cross applesauce). This sitting requirement for some children may be hard especially if they have poor core strength or lack coordination. This can result in wiggly children and disengagement. To remedy this, an OT may suggest having children lay on their stomachs, sitting in a cube chair, or other alternative seating to help a children focus on the circle time activity instead of focusing on sitting correctly.

Another struggle that your child may be having at school are their toilet routines. OTs can help with this by creating a visual sequence of steps to wash hands, go to the toilet, pulling pants up and down, to tolerate the sound of a flushing toilet, or the feel of soup in their hands as they wash their hands.

Snack or lunch time may also be another area children need help with. OTs can help children learn how to open food packages and to understand it is okay to ask for help if they need help opening food packages. In addition to this OTs can help in expanding food variety, and cleaning up when finished eating snacks or lunch.

Most often OTs help children at school with fine motor skills like handwriting. To help with this OTs can do an assessment of a child’s handwriting, strength, coordination, pencil grip, letter formation, speed, pressure, and spatial awareness. Interventions for handwriting can range from pencil grips, adapted paper, and fine motor box to work on strength.

The best thing a parent can do when coordinating with their child’s school occupational therapist is communicate regularly with them. As a parent you can ask for a schedule of when the OT plans to see students from you child’s class. You can schedule a time to meet every couple of weeks to discuss with the school’s OT what is working or isn’t working. The more you, as a parent, are involved with communicating the easier it is for the OT at your child’s school to help your child. Remember the school OT is there to provide support to you, educators, and most of all to improve your child’s independence and success in the classroom.

About the Author: This article was written by Rehab Therapy Supplies. Rehab Therapy Supplies is a provider of physical and occupational therapy products. They specifically provide pediatric products such as swing seats, seating systems, and head protectors.

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