United STATES School-Based OTs Looking For Change
In many states in the US, Occupational Therapists are often not included under the umbrella of “teachers”, along with teachers, speech therapists, social workers, guidance counselors, and psychologists.
This is due to VERY OLD state legislation that was put in place WAY before OTs started participating in Common Core, RTI, etc. Way before 20% of OT practitioners were employed in schools.
This limits in many ways.
In some states, it prevents us from being permitted to advance our careers to administrative positions. There is a shortage of qualified leaders in the Special Education field, yet there is a whole category of educated professionals who are not able to step up into administrative roles.
Occupational therapists, not being under the umbrella of teachers, are often not observed and supervised like teachers are. We are not held to the same standards as teachers. Often, OTs are not included in team meetings, faculty meetings, and professional development sessions.
Social workers address the social-emotional and behavioral needs of students that impact a child’s ability to access the curriculum.
School psychologists address social-emotional needs, coping strategies, and other areas that impact a child’s ability to succeed in the classroom.
Speech-language therapists address expressive and receptive language deficits that impact a child’s ability to learn.
Occupational Therapists address impaired physical functioning which hampers the ability to perform daily life tasks, psychosocial problems which hamper the ability to function in daily life, special needs which require modification of the physical environment and/or use of specialized equipment and technologies
We all have similar job functions within the school setting.
We all address educational goals on student’s Individualized Education Programs to help them access their curriculum.
We should have equal supervision, professional development, retirement, benefits, and the ability to advance to leadership or administrative roles.
BUT WE DO
The umbrella of Pupil Personnel should include Occupational Therapists in state education departments. But it doesn’t. This archaic legislation limits us greatly.
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Are you a School-Based OT looking for change?
If you’d like to start a group for your state (or have questions about it), please contact Miss Jaime, O.T.