Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapy Process at Ripplevale School:

What is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational Therapists are concerned with how people function in everyday life. We aim to work collaboratively with family/carers and staff with in the school. Occupational Therapy focuses on promoting, maximising and maintaining the skills and abilities of pupils with a wide range of abilities and disabilities.

The term Occupational Therapy can often be confusing. It carries the misconception that the profession’s focus is on occupation and job training. In fact, Occupational Therapists promote skill development and independence in daily ‘occupations’ in a broader sense. For an adult, this may mean doing the housework, going to the gym, going to the shops and/or work. For a pupils, this may include playing, accessing learning and being able to eat their meals.

Occupational Therapists aim to help pupils develop skills and promote independence through the use of meaningful activities. We aim to work towards the pupil practising skills in their daily activities in the settings and environments they need to do them in.

Occupational Therapists are able to analyse the skills necessary for individuals to perform activities. We do this by breaking the task down and identifying the areas of difficulty. Think of the pupil learning to write. To learn this task, the pupil must have:

  • good sitting posture and balance,
  • adequate joint stability and muscle strength, 
  • good body awareness and motor planning, 
  • good hand skills, 
  • mature visual perceptual and visual motor skills, 
  • good attention and concentration skills
  • and the cognitive ability to learn this skill! 

This is why it is so valuable for us to be able to observe the pupils completing their everyday tasks, for example, in the classroom.

Occupational Therapy in Special Schools

In a special school, we know that pupils may have varying degrees of difficulty due to a number of factors. We can support pupils to develop their daily living skills, for example, dressing, washing, eating, drinking, preparing snacks, personal hygiene, accessing the curriculum including recording work, accessing school outings, participation and access to play and leisure activities.

The School based Occupational Therapy will also consider the sensory needs of the pupils, working towards identifying and limiting the impact of sensory processing difficulties.

The Occupational Therapist can use a variety of assessments both standardised and non-standardised to assess the pupils.  Pupils can be seen individually, in small groups or whole class interventions.

OT Availability
Monday to Thursday from 9am – 2.30pm

How Occupational Therapy Works Within the School:
There are various ways the OT will provide a service to the school. This model may help to explain this:

This represents all the pupils in the school. They are all likely to have some need to improve their functional* skills, but these needs can be met through the classroom/ school environment.

At this level individuals who need some level of additional support to improve their function. The OT may carry out a class observation and an assessment giving strategies to the classroom staff.

Specialist Level
At this level those children need specialist support from an Occupational Therapist. The OT will provide or co-ordinate support for the pupil.

Referral Process:
A completed referral for Occupational Therapy is required for every request for intervention. Parents/carers can make a referral through teaching staff or other professionals or direct to the OT (through face-to-face or telephone call discussion). If the pupil is referred to the Occupational Therapy Service, you as parents/carers will be asked to give your consent.

The Occupational Therapist works in a variety of ways:

  • Running formal training sessions for school staff that have a practical focus with theory to back-up implementation.  Understanding Physical Development and Sensory Processing Differences related to ASD.
  • Parent/carers are able to access support and training through ‘Coffee mornings’ and can be asked in to school for an OT Consultation appointment, to discuss home concerns and to observe a practical session.
  • Termly intervention blocks for individual or group work.
  • Therapy programmes taught and implemented in class and at home, training and support offered to staff and parents/carers.
  • Adapted equipment trialled and loaned.
  • Formal Reports and Programmes.

Therapy Approaches:
The Occupational Therapist uses a variety of approaches, treatment programmes and standardised tools, the specialist areas include:

  • Sensory integration therapy/Sensorimotor interventions eg Sensory Circuits, Sensory Diet.
  • Therapeutic listening – Quickshifts music based tool.
  • Neurological developmental theory.
  • Play as a therapeutic medium.
  • Sensory motor intervention.
  • ICT support.

Please contact Donna Dodd via the school office to discuss your child’s OT needs.

Occupational Therapy in Schools Leaflet

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