Real life examples of OT applications
A common “occupation” that students must master in order to succeed in school is handwriting. Teachers often notice that particular students cannot hold their pencil correctly or have illegible handwriting.
An OT therapist can help a teacher evaluate a student and identify what is causing this difficulty. The therapist will look at the child’s skills and other factors, including (1) behavior, (2) visual, sensory, and physical capabilities, and (3) the school, home, and classroom environments.
With this information, the therapist will work with the teacher to find ways to improve the handwriting skills or identify ways to work around any disabilities that may impact the ability to write, such as providing a computer.
Children with attention and sensory challenges often lack the appropriate “filters” to screen out irrelevant sensory input, and this can cause significant distress that sometimes leads to meltdowns.
A child may be still processing, for example, a noise that they heard earlier as they entered the classroom, while at the same time trying to listen to a teacher’s instructions. Sensory overload can lead to challenging behaviors, withdrawal and complete shutdown.
An OT therapist can recommend simple strategies that can be used in the home or classroom to help these students get the sensory filters that they need. This, in turn, helps the child’s nervous system become more organised/regulated and, therefore, supports the child with attention and performance.