Occupational therapy has an important role in promoting students’ function at school to enable them to be successful in the learning environment. There is huge scope for occupational therapy across the curriculum and year groups, for example:
* Behavior: Sensory Integration therapy can help to manage sensory processing disorder, commonly seen in children on the autism spectrum and with ADHD. Sensory integration therapy can identify a sensory malfunction and with the right input can calm and focus an otherwise restless and disruptive child allowing them to better engage in the classroom.
* Early intervention- targeting early years students who are not reaching their milestones, perhaps too young to have had any medical assessment or diagnosis but exhibiting some motor skill delay which can impair academic performance unless addressed.
* Anxiety and relaxation- Students exhibiting anxiety can use techniques to manage and control their symptoms. Relaxation techniques could also be of great benefit to all students in the exam period to teach them strategies to help them better focus (an awesome skill to carry into adulthood).
* Social skills- especially relevant for children with Autism struggling to engage appropriately with their peers.
* Addressing literacy problems, handwriting difficulties, scissor technique and other classroom skills
* Cognitive skills- turn taking, attention, sequencing, organization, problem solving (a common problem with all teenagers)
* Providing advice and adaptations for students with a physical or sensory impairment
* Fine and gross motor skills development, balance, spatial awareness, especially relevant for children with developmental coordination disorder delay.
* Promoting daily living skills such as eating, drinking, dressing, personal care and play for children not functioning as independently as their peers.
This list is not exhaustive. Occupational therapy promotes function through skill development, which if a child can better engage in school life means they are more likely to achieve, not only boosting their self esteem, but also creating a more harmonious learning environment.
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