The occupational therapist works with our pupils to help them to be as independent as they can in their day-to-day activities. The occupational therapist may provide advice, special equipment and / or therapy input to help children and young people be more successful in completing the activities important to them, such as playing, learning at school and self care tasks.
We have one full time occupational therapist at Jack Tizard School, and one occupational therapy assistant. The occupational therapist at Jack Tizard School has a very broad and varied job, helping a pupil to complete all their occupations to the best of their abilities. ‘Occupation’ for a child or young person may include:
- Playing on their own and with others
- Looking after themselves (such as feeding, going to the toilet, putting their coat on, etc)
- Learning at school (which may include writing, using scissors, paying attention, reading, participating in lessons)
When children have a disability they may find learning to do some or all of these ‘occupations’ difficult, and may require specialist advice or input so they can be as independent and successful as possible.
Together with the teachers and other therapies (speech and language therapy and physiotherapy), the occupational therapist will assess a pupil’s functional skills in these areas, and provide recommendations, special equipment and / or therapy input to help our pupils be more successful in completing the activities important to them in their life. The areas that the occupational therapist is particularly good at helping with are:
- Self-care activities – Helping to build independence in areas such as feeding, cooking, dressing and toileting. We do this through group sessions, 1:1 sessions, trying useful equipment, and specialist programs.
- Fine motor skills - Improving the use of the small muscles of the hands and fingers to complete tasks better and quicker. Such tasks that we try to improve may include holding a pencil, doing up buttons and laces, using scissors, handling money, or using cutlery. We often do this through groups, 1:1 sessions, and programs.
- Sensory processing – To find out how our pupils process the sensory information from their environment to better support their learning, behaviour and quality of life. We can do this by modifying their environment or task and providing sensory diets / sensory circuits. The occupational therapist also provides staff and parent training sessions on sensory processing.
- Posture and seating – By providing an improved posture through a good seated position, our pupils can concentrate better, work for longer, have improved access to activities and perform skills with more success.
- Visual perception – To provide ideas to help a pupil process the information they see. Depending on the area of need, the occupational therapist may be able to offer advice to help a pupil identify objects on a crowded page, write neater, form their letters correctly, identify a missing letter or part of a letter when reading, or be more coordinated during obstacle courses or ball games.
- Cognitive skills – To developing the skills that help with thinking, such as attention span, putting things in the right order (sequencing), memory, planning, etc. This sometimes involves setting up play groups, offering advice for target setting, and joining in with cooking lessons or community trips.
We support all the students at Jack Tizard School. Sometimes we have to prioritise the work we are doing.
As the occupational therapist is based at our school full time, close links are required with the social services occupational therapist (who home visits), NHS therapists, and wheelchair service occupational therapists to ensure that we are meeting all of our pupils’ needs.