What is Occupational Therapy?
The occupations of Children and Young People are to learn, play and socialise. Occupational Therapy is needed when they experience difficulties with these occupations, and it impacts on their overall development; health and well-being; their participation and engagement; and their ability to access education and learning.
The Occupational Therapist (OT), in partnership with school staff, parents/carers and the child or young person, will explore strategies to overcome these barriers. This may include, for example:
- Developing the child or young person skills and abilities
- Changing the way a task is done
- Looking at modifications to the environment
- Recommending or providing equipment
- Teaching the child or young person, staff and parents new techniques.
What is the focus of Occupational Therapy at Aspire?
Occupational Therapy enhances engagement and participation in occupations in school, home and community life.
It considers, for example:
Sensory Regulation - identifying sensory processing challenges that are creating barriers to engagement and participation, and providing opportunities to access a range of sensory-based strategies and interventions to support self-regulation and well-being.
Transitions - identifying triggers that may be causing anxiety and implementing strategies to support, for example, moving from one class or task to another, and between home and school on school transport.
Motor Skill Development - by enhancing fine motor skills for tasks such as self-care, writing, drawing and using scissors, as well as supporting gross motor skill development to help those with motor coordination or dyspraxia-type difficulties.
Life Skills - for example, developing independence in dressing, personal care (toileting, teethbrushing) and self-feeding
How is Occupational Therapy delivered at Aspire?
The school works in collaboration with a consultant OT, providing guidance and advice to staff and parents, primarily on the sensory needs of the students. This includes whole-school and targeted support and training, as well as specialist input, where needed, for individual children with the most complex needs.
Occupational Therapy at Aspire is delivered in a variety of ways:-
As a whole class or whole school (Universal) approach.
Staff are provided with regular training opportunities in order to be familiar and confident in delivering school-led programmes such as Sensory Circuits (to support readiness for learning and participation), SMILE Time (sensory motor integration learning experiences to support individual’s sensory regulation) and Clever Fingers (a fine motor skills programme). Guidance on reasonable adjustments and environmental adaptations to support participation and engagement is also provided by the Academy’s Consultant Occupational Therapist.
As a Targeted or Group Approach
Students are referred to the consultant Occupational therapist by class teachers for assessment and advice when concerns have been raised and/or universal approaches are not fully meeting at student’s needs within school.
School-led programmes are identified and individualised by the OT in order to meet the student’s particular needs, with monitoring and review undertaken by the OT in collaboration with school staff and parents. This ensures that interventions remain appropriate for the student’s needs as their skills develop and staff and parents are trained and confident in implementing the strategies.
As a Specialist Approach
Some students need long or intensive short-term, highly individualised occupational therapy support to improve functional outcomes. This may require direct specialist intervention from the Occupational Therapist, alongside other school-led OT interventions. Specialist input may also include the provision of highly personalised ‘sensory diets’ or Sensory Integration-based therapy to support sensory regulation for those with complex sensory processing difficulties.
For further guidance on the role of Occupational Therapy for children and young persons, please visit the Royal College of Occupational Therapists (RCOT) website. https://www.rcot.co.uk
Karen Al Khina
Consultant Occupational Therapist