Who are Occupational Therapists?
School-based occupational therapy practitioners are members of the school’s special education team and include occupational therapists (OTRs) and occupational therapy assistants (COTAs) who use meaningful activities (occupations) to help children and youth participate in what they need and/or want to do in order to promote physical and mental health and well-being.
What Training Do Occupational Therapists Receive?
Occupational Therapists (OTRs) are trained in a Masters or Doctorate level program. School-based have special training in child development. Therapists complete an accredited occupational therapy program, supervised fieldwork, and a national certification examination. These form the basis for state licensing of therapists. All occupational therapists participate in annual continuing education focused on evidence based practice.
What Do School-Based Occupational Therapists Do?
Occupational therapists address the physical, cognitive, psychosocial and sensory components of performance. In schools, occupational therapy practitioners focus on academics, play and leisure, social participation, self-care skills (ADLs or Activities of Daily Living), and transition/ work skills. Occupational therapy’s expertise includes activity and environmental analysis and modification with a goal of reducing the barriers to participation. School-based occupational therapy is designed to enhance the student’s ability to fully access and be successful in the learning environment. Occupational therapists collaborate with the student, parents, teachers, paraeducators and other professionals with the goal of achieving the best school experience possible for the student. OTs aim to enable the student to actively engage in learning, participate in all aspects of school life and ultimately, achieve his/her full potential.