The “occupation” of children and young adults is, essentially, to be a student. For our students, occupational therapy is purposeful self-activity the student performs. It must have intrinsic value for the student to assure motivation and carryover.
The approach used in The Day School is sensory-integrative with an emphasis on input and feedback from the senses. Students learn by doing because the emphasis is on the basic functions involved in higher cognitive activity. The approach also prepares the child to gain maximum benefit from his or her school experience.
Assessment and evaluation for necessary related services from the occupational therapist are done individually in a carefully controlled setting.
For “untestable” or very young children, evaluation-in-treatment is often the best method of determining needed services.
According to their needs, students may be offered individual or group therapy or, in some cases, it may be determined that consultation with the teacher and other classroom staff is the appropriate support model. Whatever the method of delivery, common goals for Occupational Therapy in The Day School are:
- normalization of sensory-integrative function through carefully selected sensory experiences, especially vestibular and tactile, and motor activity for feedback
- promotion of developmental progression, filling developmental gaps, overcoming deprivation through sequential sensory and motor experiences
- promotion of self-confidence, ego-strengthening and motivation
As with all therapies, pull-out occupational therapy is used for a limited time and only when the student needs to learn new skills that cannot be taught in the classroom or “specials” setting. As soon as possible and practical, the student is re-integrated into the classroom or other activity to determine if the skill taught can be used in the day-to-day environment.