What is occupational therapy?
‘Occupation’ refers here to the practical activities that allow a child to be independent and develop a sense of identity. Paediatric occupational therapists (children’s therapists) work in a variety of treatment settings including schools and local authority managed Child Development Centres.
At Woodcroft the occupational therapy team is focused on developing skills that enable the pupils to handle day-to-day tasks such as self-care, work, play and leisure. We have an experienced occupational therapist on-site each day and our therapy assistant works in conjunction with the rest of the interdisciplinary team and the child’s family to support and optimise each pupil’s functioning within all areas of the school day. This support is also aimed at helping the child to thrive at home and in the wider community.
What does the occupational therapy service at Woodcroft offer?
The OT aims to use a wide range of approaches to plan, deliver and monitor occupational therapy with all pupils attending the school.
The holistic, mostly class based approach to planning and delivering therapy takes into account the physical, social, emotional, sensory and cognitive abilities and needs of the pupils. In this, as in all our work, we view the individual as a potential part of the wider school community and aim to maximise the child’s opportunities to participate as fully as possible.
Therapeutic interventions and simple strategies that can be easily adapted by school staff or families, are aimed at helping the children stay calm and focused whilst alert and ready to learn.
The OT uses school wide frameworks such as SCERTS, ABA and TEACCH, which are briefly summarised in the therapy introduction page. Alongside these are SPELL (an evidence based framework developed by the National Autistic Society) and therapeutic approaches based on sensory integration theory. The various strategies are used where a need is indicated by the OT and colleagues around the school.
Occupational therapy aims
Woodcroft’s OT service aims to develop pupils’ functional and motor skills, such as fine and gross motor skills, postural stability, visuomotor (hand to eye) coordination and bilateral skills. Alongside this, the emphasis will be on sensory and emotional regulation and access to learning. This helps pupils to achieve their potential and participate as independently as possible.
Other areas of focus are; participation, social communication and group skills, such as turn taking, waiting and sharing, increasing motivation, catching and maintaining attention and focus as well as building self-esteem and confidence.
A team working approach
Another important aspect of the occupational therapy input at Woodcroft is to work with the class teams and families to help the child to self-regulate and monitor their own levels of sensory processing, behaviour and emotional need. To do this we provide an environment and suitable supports or equipment that effect such development.
The eventual aim is for children to be able to do this self-regulation and monitoring as independently as possible, or start to identify and communicate these needs appropriately.
Sometimes joint working with other members of the therapy or peripatetic team is also undertaken, and as a result groups may be set up and run in conjunction with them.
Other areas within the remit of the OT at Woodcroft
- In some cases liaison with occupational therapy colleagues at the pupil’s Child Development Clinic may be indicated in order to provide the optimum service to the family and child.
- The occupational therapist will accompany pupils and families to appointments if required and appropriate, and liaise with colleagues regarding therapy programmes or transition plans.
- Home visits, both before admission to the school or whilst a pupil is on role are also available.
- The occupational therapist is happy to advise on activities and equipment that can be used out of school, although sometimes it may be more appropriate to refer a pupil on to an occupational therapist at their local clinic or housing department, when adaptations to the home or larger pieces of equipment are required.
- The occupational therapist is also available to give advice or guidance on form filling and application for certain grants or entitlements, such as the Disability Living Allowance.
- The current occupational therapist and therapy assistant deliver and monitor our sessions at a local sports centre.
Typical OT input for a pupil attending Woodcroft
- Small weekly group occupational therapy sessions.
- On going assessment and observation.
- Sensory profile and personal ‘sensory diet’ devised and monitored by the occupational therapist.
- Input to assessment and planning.
- Advice on or provision of equipment as required, including programmes of use and safety aspects.