Know your options when it comes to occupational therapy

What a pleasure it is to introduce guest blogger Sandra Schefkind, MS, OTR/L, pediatric coordinator for the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA).

Know your options when it comes to occupational therapy

By Sandra Schefkind

It’s no secret that parents want the best for their kids. When they’re at home they know firsthand what’s happening … but let’s face it — kids can’t stay at home forever!

Parents of children with autism need to know that occupational therapy practitioners (OTs) are important members of the school team to support both the academic performance and social participation of their child. From addressing sensory concerns that impact learning, adapting tasks and the environment to enhance participation, and addressing the child’s ability to manage his emotions and facilitate his social skills development, OTs in schools support a child’s participation in the academic and nonacademic curriculum and engagement in daily school routines. Using evaluation and screening, OTs help to identify the child’s abilities and strengths and determine the need for occupational therapy services.

Since OT services in schools help students succeed in their daily routines, occupational therapy can be offered in a variety of settings including the classroom, playground, or lunchroom. The goal is to offer services in the natural environment to the extent possible in settings in which the child participates in school-related activities. Occupational therapy practitioners are part of the school team meeting the needs of your child; they provide service to and on behalf of your child through direct service and consultation.

Download the fact sheet on the role of occupational therapy under IDEA and share with your teacher, principal, and PTA. Also, refer to the consumer tip sheet entitled Understanding Autism. These two resources provide valuable information about the profession of occupational therapy and articulate our role to consumers.

And more than anything else, as a parent of a child with autism, know your options when it comes to occupational therapy. Know what occupational therapy in schools can do for your child, and know how occupational therapy services work in your school system. Talk to your child’s principal, teacher, director of special education in your district, and your state occupational therapy association — they can answer questions and concerns and help you determine the best options for your child.


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