Occupational therapy (OT) helps students who may struggle to do everyday tasks because of difficulties relating to motor skills, sensory or cognitive challenges. For some students, that includes tasks that are part of learning and functioning well at school. OT works on the skills that students may struggle with, this can include tasks such as zipping their coat to writing and typing.
OT is a treatment that works to improve fine and gross motor skills and motor planning. It can also help individuals who struggle with self-regulation and sensory processing. The therapy is tailored to a child’s specific needs. Before it begins, an occupational therapist (an OT) looks at a child’s strengths and challenges, and the tasks that child has trouble with. The OT will then create a program of activities for the child to work on.
Every classroom has a Resource Station containing learning support equipment and materials such as move and sit cushions, writing slopes, ear defenders, sensory feedback toys, and weighted items.
Morning OT Sessions
Students attend morning OT sessions four days a week for a total of eighty minutes. They take part in different groups every day (Sensory, Activities of Daily Living, Gross Motor Skills, Fine Motor Skills, Strengthening and Touch Typing). The general objectives of the exercises planned for the morning OT are:
- Improving gross motor skills and core strength
- Learning to be independent in carrying out everyday tasks
- Improving fine motor skills
- Increasing the capability to process and integrate the information coming from all the senses, learning to work as part of a team and developing the ability to tolerate different sensory experiences and modulate adequate responses to various stimuli
- Developing touch typing skills
We always aim at creating activities that are both engaging and stimulating. Some examples of tasks included in the morning sessions are:
- Games and circuits in the gym
- Learning to tie shoelaces, tie a tie, do/undo buttons, prepare a healthy meal, organise an event, do laundry, use public transport, look for information using the Internet
- Completing dot to dot pictures, creating mosaics, colouring, creating pictures using tangram, playing games requiring manipulating small objects with agility, painting rocks
- Completing sensory circuits including exercises such as skipping the rope, going through tunnels, balancing on a balance board, bouncing on exercise balls, guessing different essential oils smelled, trying foods of different textures, defining and describing the properties of various objects
- Playing specific games, copying and writing texts to learn to type quickly and with confidence
Individual and Small Group Sessions
Some students access individual and/or small group sessions to work on the development of specific skills and reach established targets. One of the tools we use to set goals and verify the achievement of the targets set is the COPM (Canadian Occupational Performance Measure). Some examples of targets we set and work on, always in agreement with students, teachers and parents, are improving handwriting, learning to tie shoelaces/a tie, learning about money management, learning specific self-care skills.