Occupational Therapists: Focusing on Engagement & Independence for All

By Brandie Cox, Occupational Therapist 

April is Occupational Therapy Month–a time to recognize the vital role occupational therapists play with children from birth to 21.

School-based occupational therapists are specialized professionals who support the “occupation” of being a student. These “occupations” for children from birth to 3 years old may include infants and toddlers playing appropriately with toys in their home, participating in family routines, safe positioning/posture during those routines, feeding themselves, drinking from a cup, early dressing skills and having the fine motor skills to access toys and materials in their home.

At school, a student’s “occupations” may include taking care of themselves during school routines (using the restroom, self-feeding, managing materials during arrival/departure), accessing curriculum (holding a pencil appropriately, cutting, using toys during centers in preschool), practicing independent living skills as they get older, and having the appropriate positioning/posture needed to participate in their academic program.

Occupational therapists also assist with modifications to materials (kitchen tools for foods class, art supplies, etc.) and adaptive equipment (adaptive scissors, modified pencils, visual accommodations, adaptive paper, adaptive silverware) for students. They strive to ensure all students can participate throughout the school day.

On a daily basis, Heartland AEA occupational therapists can be found assessing needs, providing interventions, collaborating with teachers and families and creating accommodating learning environments. Their main priority is to remove barriers that can hinder a child’s school success. Occupational therapists use a holistic approach, looking at all factors impacting a student’s engagement and independence. By fostering critical life skills, they enable every child to engage, learn and thrive. Happy OT month to our 22 Heartland AEA occupational therapists!

Occupational Therapists: Focusing on Engagement & Independence for All