School based OT is focused on helping students access the school environment and curriculum. On Tuesday we talked about the Elementary level and a little about general OT school practices. Middle and High School have similarities to what you would see an OT working on in Elementary school, but also can look a little different depending on your school district.
Your child’s IEP will follow them as they transition to a new school. Once they enter middle school they may continue to receive direct OT services either in a pull-out session (where they may come to the OT room), a push-in model (where they are seen in one of their classes), or on a consult basis (where the OT is either consulting with them but not providing direct therapy or the OT will consult with their team). At the middle school and high school level, consult becomes much more frequent. The goal is that they have been working on building their fine motor skills and sensory processing abilities throughout elementary that they may only need OT accommodations or modifications in their IEP which can be tracked and monitored with a consult rather than direct service.
However, there are kiddos that will require direct OT throughout middle and high school. Handwriting tends to become less of a focus and the implementation of technology (typing, speech to text, word prediction) become more used. Kiddos may be seen to work on improving their ability to access the new technology. They may also still require direct service for sensory and fine motor difficulties. The jump from elementary school to middle school can be a difficult transition to handle, the amount of work increases, the expectations for work increases and the level of independence expected increases. The occupational therapist may work on executive functioning skills with kids at this level to help them close the gap from elementary to middle.
High school students typically are only seen on a consult basis or if they are in a specialized program due to a significant disability (like a life skills class). Those in a specialized high school program such as a life skills class start to focus more on ADL’s (activities of daily living) rather than academic based skills.
Again, like we said on Tuesday if you think these areas may be impacting your child at school, the best place to start is a conference with the child’s teacher. They will be able to contact the appropriate team and get the process started!