THINGS TO TRY BEFORE REFERRING FOR OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY
Each child is unique and presents various behaviors or habits that may interfere with his/her ability to benefit from his/her education. If there are things you are observing in the class that you feel you require tips from the occupational therapist in your building, please feel free to ask. Please do not give the therapist the child’s name, but rather approach her by saying, “I have a student who does this, or this.” The therapist will be happy to provide tools or strategies that may be beneficial.
GENERAL IDEAS- Please see the links provided on the OT website for ideas about sensory tools and grasping patterns.
- Hand Fidgets
- Move ‘n Sit cushion
- rocking chair
- floor chair
- water bottles
- chewy items (gum, or chewy from OT)
- movement breaks built into the day
- noise-reduction headphones
For WRITING, please ensure the child’s feet touch the floor (may need a foot rest) and they are able to have good sitting posture (table height is not too high). The forearm should rest on the table and the paper should be slanted so that his/her forearm is parallel to the edge of the paper.
The link on the website shows how to place a pom-pom in the ring and little fingers to facilitate a tripod grasp. Remember to encourage the rounded webspace. Visit the site for images.
- slant board (can be a store-bought one or a binder or upside down clipboard)
- short, golf-sized pencil (broken crayons, short markers)
- pencil grip to make the shaft thicker
- graph paper to facilitate spacing
If the child is having difficulty managing scissors, s/he may benefit from spring-loaded scissors. The OT can provide these if needed. Highlighting the lines to be cut may be helpful as well.
If a child struggles with attention to task/teacher, explore the following options:
- strategic seating so that the child always has the fewest distractions between him/her and the target.
- place tape or colored paper on the desk/table to direct the child’s vision to his/her work area.
- Provide visual schedules to assist the child in knowing what s/he should be doing NOW and what will come next.
- Use First/Then language to encourage the child to “first, do your work; then you may get a sticker/get a drink of water/mini ‘reward’.”
- Provide a personal copy of whatever is on the chalkboard. This decreases the visual stimuli between the target information and the work.
If a child is struggling to keep organized, explore the following options:
- Keep it simple. If possible, use a 3-ring binder to keep ALL CLASSES in one place. Provide a 3-hole punch that fits IN the binder (can find at Office Depot for >$5). All paper, notebooks, and folders go in the binder.
- Keep work surface clear. Have alternate places for materials that are easy to keep neat.
- Create the routine immediately: at the start of the school year (or at home, when they are YOUNG).
- Create a visual schedule for transitions (put papers in binder, binder in backpack, pencil in backpack, check class schedule, make sure all materials are off your desk, go to next class, or however it would be).