The role of the Occupational Therapy Department
Occupational therapy for learners who experience barriers to learning aims to develop the necessary basic social, motor and visual perceptual skills. Therapy strives to integrate these skills so as to enable learners to achieve their maximum potential.
Functions of Occupational Therapy
All learners in grades 1 - 4 enrolled at the School of Achievement undergo a formal and/or functional assessment to determine their level of functioning in visual perceptual, gross and fine motor skills. After the assessment results are shared with the multidisciplinary team and an individual treatment program is established to assist with the Individual Education Plan (IEP). Parents are given feedback regarding the results and the necessary recommendations concerning therapy, home programs and/or scholastic adaptations. Referrals to other professionals may be made if necessary.
Learners in the High School are assessed on an as-need basis. After the assessment a multi-disciplinary team discussion takes place where the necessary recommendations are made.
Occupational Therapy (OT) in the Foundation Phase (Grade 1 – 3) and Intersen Phase (Gr 4& 5) focuses on eliminating gaps in sensory motor development and visual perception, in order to lay a sound foundation for schoolwork. The OT department is well-equipped with sensory motor equipment and various resources.
Learners are grouped together for therapy, so as to promote social interaction, as well as to strengthen their weaknesses. Most learners in the Foundation Phase (Gr 1 – 3) receive therapy twice weekly. Learners in the Intersen Phase (Gr 4& 5), receive therapy in larger groups once a week, where more emphasis is placed on academic related tasks.
High School learners receive occupational therapy in small groups and/ or individual sessions where needed. These groups focus on school related skills, life skills, social skills and vocational skills.
3. The Role of Occupational Therapist in the Classroom
In the Foundation Phase and Intersen Phase, learners are observed in the classroom to establish whether the learners can apply skills learned in therapy, to academic work. Recommendations to the teacher may be made for adaptations where necessary. The Occupational Therapist participates in the weekly team discussions, where the learner's areas of difficulty are approached and solved in a holistic manner. Parents are informed on the progress their children have made in areas targeted in therapy during parent's days and in reports. Parents are welcome to approach a therapist at any time to ask advice or for assistance.
4. Indications for Occupational Therapy
Foundation Phase :
- Motor skills : Clumsiness, poor balance and posture, poor gross motor skills such as jumping and skipping and poor fine motor skills such as pencil control, cutting and writing.
- Un-established dominance and midline crossing: The learner may use both hands equally, avoid crossing his midline by rotating or moving the page or his body while working at a table.
- Visual perceptual delays: Reversals of letters, reversals in the order of words, difficulty copying from the blackboard, difficulty finding his/her place when reading and incorrect letter and number formation.
- Poor concentration and/or hyperactivity
- Poor memory and reasoning abilities
- Sensory systems: Hyper/hypo-sensitivity to touch, sound, textures of clothing, food or movement.
Intersen Phase :
The Grade 4 learners, who still require intensive therapy, are seen in small groups once a week. Some Grade 5 learners receive occupational therapy in a small group once a week, which focusses on study skills.
High School Phase:
High school pupils receive occupational therapy on an as-need basis, from Grade 8 - 12 which focuses on areas such as social skills, pre-vocational skills and study skills to name a few.
5. External Activities
Learners are encouraged to participate in external activities such as sport (eg. athletics, swimming, gymnastics, etc), cultural activities (eg. drumming, choir, music, pottery, etc) and social activities (eg. Cubs, Voortrekkers, etc). This gives the learners opportunity to explore and enhance new and varied skills; thus, enabling them to develop their self-image and social interaction.
6. Additional Information on Occupational Therapy and Related Resources