Monthly Archives: March 2019

The Occupational Therapist on the Transition Team

I am re-reading an  OT textbook, Occupational Therapy for children and adolescents, 7th edition. I feel like doing jumping jacks and turning cartwheels because occupational therapy is such a great profession! =)

Of course, I started in chapter 25 Transition to Adulthood, written by some of my transition heroes! Note these important statements regarding the role OT needs to play on the transition team for our students.

Occupational therapy is included as a transition service when the transition team determines that occupational therapy can help the student access, participate in, and benefit from his or her specialized education and transition services.
The occupational therapist’s positive, future-oriented view of students combines a commitment to student-centered services, collaborative team-work, and achievement of performance and participation outcoming, making him or her a valuable addition to a student’s transition team.
Importantly, occupational therapy outcomes completely align with the intent of IDEA and the goals for student participation in work and community, as defined by the transition team.
Occupational therapy, when added to the mix of transition services, can make a real difference in the lives of young people when goals and dreams include some combination of post-high school employment, community living, further education or training, economic self-sufficiency, and social connection (Cleary, D., Persch, A., & Spencer, K., 2015, p. 728)

As an OT in secondary-school, some of my students have needed support in practicing completing job applications (online and on paper), addressing their organizational skills, increasing activity tolerance/attention skills to ensure task completion, learning to follow a job-task visual schedule, improving functional money skills, improving motor skills identified as necessary in an activity analysis, developing soft skills for employment, and the list goes on.

That may even include practicing to personalize  a signature to sign their IEP or job application when appropriate! Some students have job-coaches that take them off campus to work sites (I do not have that privilege yet due to my work schedule on campus!); their job-coaches and I may discuss what skills are difficult for them on site and I work on some of those skills at school. There are so many possibilities and needs to address with the students, to help prepare them to transition onto their next life role. Occupational therapy has such broad scope that it is possible to support the students and their teams in identifying and addressing a variety of these needs. Goals are identified for students’  transition services section on their IEP; sometimes the student and his or her team would benefit from OT support to assist in addressing those goals to enable success. What an exciting role to have, to work with the student and his or her team to help achieve their hopes and dreams!

Cleary, D., Persch, A., & Spencer, K. (2015) Chapter 25 Transition to adulthood. In Case-Smith, J., & Clifford O’Brien, J. (Eds.).  Occupational Therapy for children and adolescents, 7th edition. St. Louis, MO; Elsevier, Mosby.

So much information!

When I started my most recent study (Master of Education in Special Education, with Certification in Education-Health Care Transition Planning) in 2013, I was not prepared for the variety of topics I would discover that are important in education. I believed I would do a good study and determine what needed to be done in transition planning  and just begin to do it. In the courses I took at the University of Florida (online) and all the information I have discovered on social media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.) my awareness has increased! I learn from other Occupational Therapy (OT) practitioners, I learn from classroom teachers, I learn from administrators, I learn from other education professionals, and so forth. I’ve seen the need to increase and improve transition planning for our students, the need to address Universal Design for Learning (UDL) for all students, the need and  availability of assistive technology …. actually there are too many needs to try to list them all.
There is so much information, so many ideas, and so many amazing individuals/teams doing great things that it is hard to determine WHAT should be talked about next.  I am an OT by profession, I work in education by trade, I am involved in the lives of students with a variety of diagnoses, skill levels, hopes and dreams. Not only do I work directly with the students that have OT services designated on their Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), but I also interact with their families and classmates and friends.
I started this online journal with the intent to discuss what I am doing to improve my role in transition planning. As I grow in my constant research, discuss with my peers in person and online, and collaborate with my colleagues at work, I have written very little.  I would really rather like to talk to others: what do you think of this idea; look at this amazing article I found on Twitter; how should I present this idea to a student or his/her family, “read this”!

So I am taking another step with this site, my blog. I’m going to share with my readers ideas related to how I am working; topics I find on other blogs, Twitter and other social media; topic related to OT, education, UDL, lifeskills; and so forth. I’ve done that a bit but not consistently because I have had the idea that it was more important for me to be the author. In my work and studies, I have acquired the good skill of researching and citing appropriately using the APA (American Psychological Association) method. I look forward to you, my readers, responding and providing your thoughts on the information I share. I will make personal observations and I will share how I use these ideas in my professional role. I may ask questions, hoping for your ideas.
In my life, I often discuss the need to help students achieve their lives’ hopes and dreams. My personal hopes and dreams include making a difference in that, as an OT practitioner and professional working in the field of education. While I am working to pursue that, I look forward to your observation and input.