We Must Recognize the Significance of Occupational Therapy in Schools (Opinion)

To the Editor:

The Oct. 26 article “Older Students Face Time Crunch in Getting Crucial Special Education Services” provides a much needed spotlight on transition services for students with disabilities and the crisis schools are facing to provide them as mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. It essentially addresses the core of an educator’s purpose, which is to prepare all students for their future.

However, as an occupational therapy practitioner for 32 years who has been working in schools for 18, I was disappointed that the article made no reference to related services, such as occupational therapy. In schools, occupational therapists work with students on the skills proved to be predictors of transition success, including employment and leisure skills, self-regulation, social participation, and self-advocacy.

Occupational therapy practitioners perform activity or task analysis to identify each student’s strengths and needs and work with them to adapt and modify all activities and occupations—including community-based instruction—to ensure success. The article specifically mentions that community-based instruction, such as job sampling or learning how to ride the city bus, is a very important part of transition planning, yet occupational therapy is never mentioned.

As states seek to address the crisis faced by all students impacted by COVID, especially those with disabilities, transition services must remain a priority. It is important that occupational therapy services are considered an important part of the mix to ensure success.

Deborah B. Schwind
Occupational Therapist
Loudoun County Public Schools
Ashburn, Va.


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