Occupational Therapy

 

 

 

 

Main Office
District Number:
(310) 972-6500

Name

 Position

Email

Room #

Phone #

Erica Ely

Occupational Therapist

ely.erica@tusd.org

H

 x2577

Kayti Corcoran

Occupational Therapist

corcoran.kayti@tusd.org

H

 x2577

Melissa Ly

Occupational Therapist

ly.melissa@tusd.org

H

 x2577

Misty Gray

Occupational Therapist

gray.misty@tusd.org

H

 x2577

Occupational Therapy

In school based occupational therapy, we focus on supporting the child’s ability to access their classroom environment. Under Part B of IDEA (Individual’s with Disabilities Education Act) occupational therapy is a related service for eligible students, who because of their disabilities need special education and related services. Eligibility for occupational therapy requires that the student be eligible for special education and need supporting services to help them benefit from special education. In school-based practice, occupational therapists support a child’s ability to gain access to, and make progress in, the school curriculum. Occupational therapists are health professionals whose purpose is to correct, facilitate, or adapt the child’s functional performance in proximal stability, bilateral coordination, fine motor control, sensory processing (including praxis) and modulation, and use of assistive devices. Occupational therapists have unique roles in the educational setting in working both on remediation (i.e., improving sensory and motor foundations of learning and behavior) and compensation (i.e., modifying the environment, tools, or tasks) to help a child succeed at school. Therefore, recommendations for occupational therapy must be linked to educationally relevant outcomes.

Areas occupational therapist is address in the school setting include:

  1. Sensory processing
  2. Visual skills
  3. Managing and manipulating classroom materials
  4. Self-help skills
  5. Seating, positioning, and participating of physical activities 

Sensory processing

Sensory processing is one of the interventions we use to support a child’s needs especially as a part of early intervention at the preschool level. Sensory processing refers to how we receive and make sense of information from the environment and then use it for engagement in the everyday. The integration of information from the tactile, visual, auditory, olfactory, proprioceptive and vestibular systems allows a student to interact with the environment and respond purposefully to the demands of the environment. Sensory processing influences a student’s arousal level and ability to generate appropriate responses to sensations to produce organized movement responses (sensory discrimination). School-based occupational therapists address sensory processing in evaluations and interventions in order to educate IEP team members, to consult with teachers in developing sensory strategies for effective educational participation, and to provide direct intervention with the student when other less restrictive options are determined to be ineffective in supporting school participation.

Tactile system

Tactile processing refers to our sense of touch.  Tactile processing is the foundation for tactile discrimination which provides feedback about how something feels (i.e., hot or cold, soft or hard, sharp or dull, wet or dry). It can tell us about an object’s shape, size or texture. Adequate tactile processing is needed to effectively manipulate items in our hands as well and it contributes to body awareness.

Proprioceptive system

Proprioceptive processing refers to the input from our muscle and joint positions. The proprioceptive sense provides information about where a student’s body is in space (awareness of posture and movement), how much force to utilize (closing a door, writing, throwing a ball) and how it can play a role in maintaining a calm, alert focus during activities.

Vestibular system

Vestibular processing refers to the movement sense. It provides sensory information regarding the position of the head in relation to gravity and motion especially when there is a change in direction. This sensory system develops and is related to functions such as balance, equilibrium responses, muscle tone, coordination of eye and head movements, ability to use both sides of the body together and arousal levels.

Visual skills:

Occupational therapists also support difficulties in visual skills. Students use coordinated eye movements and visual perceptional skills to understand and interpret visual information for learning.  During class, they use their visual skills to participate in foundation learning activities to develop their ability to read and write. Visual perceptual skills help the students to be able to discriminate the characteristics of objects such as the shape and recognize patterns, numbers, and letters.

Managing and manipulating classroom tools:

In addition, we provide strategies for students managing classroom materials. Students use a variety of classroom objects and materials such as scissors, glue bottles, books. The underlying components of these fine motor skills include proximal stability, sensory processing, and praxis skills. Fine motor skills relate to the coordination of small muscles of the hand. Proximal stability supports coordinated movement of the hands and fingers.  Sensory processing contributes to their ability to participate in activities that involve using both sides of the body together such as stabilizing the paper while cutting or writing as well as the interpretation of sensations to allow their ability to manipulate objects and use their hands. Students handle a variety of materials that require them to have adequate finger and hand strength as well as coordination of their hands and eyes.

Self- help skills:

Students are also required to perform self-help activities throughout the school day including: washing and drying their hands, unzipping/zipping their backpack, managing food containers and participating in snack. The underling skills for these tasks include: in-hand manipulation, fine motor and bilateral coordination, sensory processing, and praxis skills for completing novel steps when learning a task.

Seating, positioning, and participating in physical activities:

Students move through a variety of functional positions for learning and performing in school activities including; sitting on the floor in “circle time” and standing in line. They also navigate around classroom furniture and on the playground. These activities require neuromuscular foundation skills including: protective reflexes, postural control, adequate range of motion in joints, muscle tone, strength, endurance, and balance and equilibrium reactions. At this age, it is important for a child to have basic protective responses to put their hands out to prevent injury in case of a fall.

Occupational therapists provide embedded school groups with a focus on providing fine motor skills and sensory motor activities. Children who are eligible may receive individual occupational therapy.