The central role of Occupational Therapy (OT) in college is to help students improve their independent living skills. OT works collaboratively with students to identify which goals are important to them on their journey through college and beyond. OT’s strongly believe that disability should never be a barrier to achievement.
Therapy is tailored to the student’s specific needs and treatment goals are formulated after an initial period of assessment. Treatment aims are reviewed regularly so that students are able to monitor their own progress. This in turn improves self-esteem, self-confidence and the motivation to continue to achieve. OT works very closely with teaching staff and the wider team to help to ensure therapy goals are integrated into the student’s curriculum.
Sessions take place on a one to one or small group format. Here are some examples of areas the OT might focus on:
- Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s). This covers a whole range of activities from being able to fasten a shoelace, use a knife and fork or make a hot drink, to being able to plan and organise daily routine.
- Fine Motor Skills. In college this may be writing and typing skills - the OT may be able to advise about strategies or equipment which could support or improve the student’s performance.
- Gross motor skills, for example, balance, core stability and co-ordination. Some students may have a physical disability that would benefit from OT input. OT will help to ensure that the student is able to access activities of choice, and will look at ways of adapting either the task or the environment to help achieve this.
- Some students, particularly those with a diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Disorder, may experience additional sensory processing difficulties. The student may underreact or overreact to things they hear, see, taste, smell or touch which they can struggle to manage. In this case the OT may prescribe a sensory diet with a series of physical and sensory activities tailored to provide the sensory input needed for good self-regulation.
- OT may also prescribe specialist equipment if this is assessed as necessary
- OT will liaise with specialist services when required, such as wheelchair services, orthotics, Deaf CAMHS etc, and regularly liaises with families and carers to provide updates with regards to the individual’s progress and discuss any issues that OT can help with in the home which could help improve outcomes.
Our OT in college is Amanda Simmonite, Bsc (hons) Occupational Therapy. Amanda is also working towards her Masters in Sensory Integration.