Following an initial intake a screening may be recommended as a first step instead of a comprehensive evaluation. A comprehensive evaluation may be recommended if indicated by the screening. A screening consists of one hour of assessment, and a feedback checklist is provided at the end of the screening. An occupational therapy screening for a specific treatment area or specific intervention may be appropriate.
OTAP offers comprehensive occupational therapy evaluations. The evaluation you receive depends on the unique needs of your child. At OTAP our experienced therapists are available to discuss which type of evaluation and treatment approach is appropriate.Many children require a full, comprehensive evaluation in order to begin occupational intervention services. Our comprehensive evaluation requires a parent/caregiver interview, 2-4 hours of direct therapist time both administering standardized tests, and observing your child in natural play in our sensory gyms. This evaluation will give you a complete picture your child’s motor and sensory processing needs. Recommendations for services and accommodations will be provided in a comprehensive detailed written report, and an evaluation feedback meeting. The assessment tools used for this evaluation vary depending on the child’s age, abilities and needs.
This evaluation requires 60-90 minutes of assessment time with parent feedback as part of the assessment time. It includes a summary report. An evaluation feedback/goal-setting follow up meeting is recommended to review goals. Although this evaluation is not comprehensive, is sufficient to determine eligibility for occupational therapy services
Therapy sessions are based on the unique needs of each child. OT sessions can address difficulties with development of gross and fine motor skills, visual motor skills, motor planning, body awareness, sensory processing skills and self-regulation. Initial therapy sessions are focused on building rapport between the child and therapist, and developing a therapeutic relationship. Some children prefer their parents to be present during sessions, while other children will work better when their parents are not watching. Parents are always welcome but your therapist will discuss which option would be best for your child. The last few minutes of each session are spent with the parents/caregivers to review what happened during the session, and provide any “homework” for your child to do.
Although OTAP provides a large sensory motor gym with a variety of equipment, your child’s therapist may decide initially to work with your child in a smaller, quieter room to support engagement in appropriate activities. They may then move to a larger room, where other children may a be working one-on-one with therapists. When appropriate, children are encouraged to interact with peers to promote social skills development.
A child’s main “occupation” is play therefore therapy is playful! Therapy sessions follow a child led but adult guided approach. The therapist encourages the child to participate in fun but purposeful activities that stimulate sensory systems that may not be working as effectively as they should be.
Therapy is fun and enjoyable for the child and is skillfully managed by the therapist to ensure it is appropriate for the child and is set to the “just right challenge,” where the activity is not too difficult so that the child no longer wants to play but is not too easy so they lose interest quickly. It is this “just-right challenge” that ensures the child forms an adaptive response that will develop the functions in which the child is having problems.
OTAP OFFERS fun, dynamic, skilled-based groups which continue to expand and grow based on the needs of our clients. Click here for more information group programs. (make this an interactive link to the group programs described below-I have it in a better format on current website)
At OTAP, in addition to provided school based occupational therapy services, we offer independent school observations and consultations with school staff for children who are having difficulties at school but do not qualify for school occupational therapy.
The goal of these observation and/or consultations is to get a “snap shot” of your child’s school day. This will enable your child’s therapist to collaborate with your child’s school team by providing suggestions, adaptations and accommodations to help your child live up to their fullest potential in the school environment.
We recommend reading “What Parents Need to Know About School-Based Occupational Therapy” by Ashley Opp Hofmann (published by American Occupational Therapy Association)
When a school informs parents that it recommends occupational therapy for their child, parents tend to have a lot of questions. Their first question?
What is occupational therapy?
Occupational therapy is a health profession in which therapists and therapy assistants help individuals to do and engage in the specific activities that make up daily life. For children and youth in schools, occupational therapy works to ensure that a student can participate in the full breadth of school activities—from paying attention in class; concentrating on the task at hand; holding a pencil, musical instrument, or book in the easiest way; or just behaving appropriately in class.
Occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants help students perform particular tasks necessary for participation or learning. “The whole purpose of school-based occupational therapy is to help kids succeed,” says pediatric occupational therapist Leslie Jackson. Occupational therapy practitioners don’t just focus on the specific problem that a child’s disability may present; rather, they look at the whole child and tackle individual tasks, helping students find ways to do the things they need and want to do.
Usually, occupational therapy is provided to students with disabilities. But occupational therapy can be made available to other children who are having specific problems in school. Occupational therapy practitioners also work to provide consultation to teachers about how classroom design affects attention, why particular children behave inappropriately at certain times, and where best to seat a child based on his or her learning style or other needs. Occupational therapy may be recommended for an individual student for reasons that might be affecting his or learning or behavior, such as motor skills, cognitive processing, visual or perceptual problems, mental health concerns, difficulties staying on task, disorganization, or inappropriate sensory responses.
A common manifestation of difficulties in school involves handwriting, in many cases because this is a key “occupation” that students must master to succeed in school. A teacher might notice that a student cannot write legibly or has serious problems in other motor tasks. The occupational therapy practitioner can work with the teacher to evaluate the child to identify the underlying problems that may be contributing to handwriting difficulty. The occupational therapy practitioner looks at the child’s skills and other problems (including behavior), in addition to his or her visual, sensory, and physical capabilities. They also take into account the school, home, and classroom environments to find ways to improve the handwriting or to identify ways the child can compensate, such as using a computer.
Accessing school-based occupational therapy is fairly straightforward, but it is the school team who makes the decision of whether or not a student requires occupational therapy. Not every student needs occupational therapy, even if the student has a disability. Those who do may have problems that the teacher can address after consulting with an occupational therapy practitioner and modifying their teaching technique or the environment for the entire class.
The education team could recommend one-on-one services. Usually these services are integrated as much as possible into the child’s routine to promote better integration of skills.
Students with disabilities have been able to receive occupational therapy at school since the 1975 passage of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which served as the original impetus for school-based occupational therapy. The law stipulates that students with disabilities must have access to the occupational therapy if they need it to benefit from special education. In 2001, Congress passed the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act which requires schools to improve the academic achievement of all students, including those with disabilities. In 2004, the reauthorization of IDEA extended the availability of occupational therapy services to all students, not just those with disabilities, in order to fully participate in school.
Parents, though, have a lot of the responsibility when it comes to their child’s success in school, and their involvement becomes doubly important when an occupational therapy practitioner enters the picture. First, Jackson suggests getting to know the teachers and occupational therapist.
“Share information about what your child does at home, raise whatever concerns you have, find out what sorts of things you can do with your child to help him or her succeed,” she says.
“Occupational therapy practitioners have important knowledge and expertise to share. Take advantage of it.”
At OTAP we provide resources for parents who want to carry over skills that are developing in the clinic setting. Our therapists may give “OT Homework” which would include fun activities to work on with their child at home. In addition we often provide a “sensory diet” activities that can be used both at home and school.
Pathways to Play
These preschool integrated play group uses theme based activities to combine sensory integration principles and the Integrated Play Group (IPG) model. The IPG model is a peer play intervention created by author and educator, Pamela J. Wolfberg. Each activity highlights the sensory areas being developed, and was created to help children develop social communication, peer interactions and sensory motor skills. Weekly sessions are 45 minutes long.
Bike Riding Clinics
(Ages 5 and up)
Are you struggling to teach your child to ride a bike?
Did your child have a bad experience trying to ride and you’re ready to give up? Our bike riding clinics are open to children ages 5 and up. Each participant must attend with a legal guardian, and bring their own bicycle and helmet. Fundamentals of bike safety will be discussed and weekly handouts will be provided. This group meets outdoors, twice a week for 45 minutes each time.
Zones of Regulation
(Helps foster self-regulation and emotional control)
The Zones curriculum provides strategies to teach children to become more aware of, and independent in, controlling their emotions and impulses, managing their sensory needs and improving their ability to problem solve conflicts.
The Zones of Regulation incorporates Social Thinking concepts and numerous visuals to help students identify their feelings/level of alertness, understand how their behavior impacts those around them, and learn what tools they can use to regulate a more expected state. Weekly sessions are 45 minutes long.
This program is for ages 5 and up, and can be modified and adapted for individual sessions
“How Does Your Engine Run”
The Alert Program for Self Regulation
“Self Regulation is the ability to attain, change, or maintain an appropriate level of alertness for a task or situation”. Having the ability to change how alert we feel is the foundations of every goal a parent, teacher or therapist has for their children.
This innovative program supports children, parents and teachers in choosing appropriate strategies to change or maintain their state of alertness. Children learn strategies to be used at home, in school and during social interactions. The technique combines cognitions with sensory integration for increased recognitions of arousal level and self –regulation. Weekly sessions are 45 minutes long.
The Write Time
(Pre-K through age 10)
Customized handwriting groups using developmentally appropriate programs such as “Handwriting without Tears”, and “Loops and Other Groups”. Warm up activities and breaks will be provided. Weekly sessions are 45 minute long.
Acorns to Oaks
Infant/Parent Developmental Play Group
This program is a great opportunity for parents and caregivers to meet in a nurturing and child friendly setting. During each session, we will explore the sensory gyms, learn songs, rhymes, finger plays; and practice simple infant massage techniques. During this occupational therapist run group, parents can share questions and discuss how to support their child’s healthy development and growth. Handouts and recommended reading material will be available. Topics will include normal development, play, sleep and nutrition. Weekly sessions are 45 minutes long.
(18 months to 3 years)
This toddler exploration group includes warm up activities, sensory motor activities where children are encouraged to explore their environment and try out new skills; and a theme based craft activity to help develop fine motor skills. The activities are short, dynamic and fun with a clear sense of purpose. Your child will enjoy action-packed adventure in a multi-sensory environment. Weekly sessions are 45 minutes long.
(Pre-Teens and Adolescents)
Using the handbook, “Take Control of Asperger’s Syndrome: The Official Strategy Guide for Kids with Asperger’s syndrome and Non Verbal Learning Disorder” as a guide, the participants discuss living with the symptoms, succeeding in school, completing homework, talk to others about strengths and needs, making friends and socializing. Problem solving scenarios will be used, and practical suggestions will be shared. Handouts will be provided for participants and their caregivers. Weekly sessions are 45 minutes long.