By Ashley Lankford, OT, Cecil County
Maryland Learning Links
Occupational therapists have a unique skill set to provide support and enhance your child’s participation in school. Their ideas can be applied at home to help with homework, self-care and other daily routines.
1. What are my child’s strengths?
Every individual, with and without disabilities, has a set of unique strengths and weaknesses. Strength and weaknesses interact together on a daily basis, impacting overall performance. At IEP meetings, it is overwhelming to hear your child’s academic weaknesses.
Strengths can be utilized in therapy and the classroom to support the child in their areas of weakness. For example, a student may have weak fine motor skills and avoid writing tasks, but when the teacher allows the child to type on the computer (technology being their strength), the child is able to complete their assignments. As parents, you know your child best, so your input in determining strengths and weaknesses can support your child’s educational plan. Understanding how your child’s teachers and therapists are utilizing strengths can help with consistency when you incorporate the same strengths throughout their day.
2. If my child receives therapy services, will it be inside or outside of the classroom?
If your child qualifies for therapy services, it is up to the IEP team to determine the location of services. Occupational therapists can provide insight into the classroom set up to support your child’s performance during a specific activity. Ideally, services should be provided within the general education classroom to ensure the student: does not miss educational content, is able to participate with peers and learn the activity in the classroom. This increases the likelihood that the student will continue the activity when the therapist is not present. Services may be provided outside of the classroom in certain instances (e.g., the student is easily distracted, requires additional assistance, and requires one to one teaching). The IEP team should determine how to track if improvement in therapy is occurring inside the classroom when this occurs.
Read more. Maryland Learning Links.