May 7, 2012

Making the most out of OT and Speech!!

Children on the spectrum need frequent repetitions to make good progress. Also, the skills need to be learned in the natural setting in order to aid generalization.

1. Instead of worrying about how much “individual” therapy the child is getting, advocate for consultation in the classroom. Ask the therapist to develop goals and objectives for the teacher and aids to implement in the classroom (for example, “answering WH questions; who, what, where)”. This way the teaching is occurring across the day, by the teachers and assistants.

2. In these speech and OT classroom plans, have the objectives and strategies incorporated into repeated trials throughout the day to provide frequent practice (asking WH questions several times a day).

3. The therapist spends part of allotted time training and monitoring the classroom staff, and the rest of her time testing out these objectives in one on one therapy.

4. Ask to have the therapists train you in the strategies so you can implement them at home, and sample the progress from the therapy. This way the child is learning the skills, both at home (parents working on WH questions at home also) and at school.

5. If possible ask to observe how the teachers are implementing the strategies in the classroom and share notes. Meet with the therapists at least once every couple of months to go over progress and troubleshoot any problems.

6. The classroom should be taking data to measure the progress of the objectives. Periodically ask to check the data, and learn how to read it. You might want to keep similar data at home. You can compare data and also share it with the therapist.

7. If the school is using visual (picture) strategies, you may also want to incorporate them at home. Ask the therapist for copies of the pictures that could be used at home. They may also be willing to make up additional pictures for you to use at home.

Remember, not much learning can occur in brief individual therapy, once a week. However, if the skills are practiced throughout the day in the classroom, and also possibility at home, you will see good progress. Access to occupational and speech therapy is very limited, so use the consultation model to maximize effectiveness.

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