To help make the transition back to school easier for the therapists, we are sharing a schedule template! This free download contains 4 different templates: a 5 day, 7:30-3 schedule a…
What Are Natural Environments?In Early Intervention, "natural environments" are emphasized as the primary and most desired setting for therapeutic and educational services, and are included in the legislation mandating EI services (Part C of IDEA). In the school system, "least restrictive environment" is a related concept, though not as intuitively understood. However, both concepts emphasize participation in typical settings, or those that non-disabled peers access. Examples of natural settings in the schools might look like: A speech therapist supporting literacy instruction at the elementary level, a social studies group project in middle school, or interview practice in the high school. An occupational therapist supporting writing centers at the elementary level, a cooking task in home economics in middle school, or a driver's education course in high school. A physical therapist supporting recess participation in the elementary school, participation in team sports in middle school, or accessing community and vocational environments at the high school level.
How To Incorporate Natural Environments Into Practice
Welcome to the third part of our discussion on classroom integration - check out part 1 and part 2, where we talked about the different models of integrating therapy services into the classroom, and the factors that can support more integrated services. Now that we have talked about the factors supporting integration of related services into the classroom - how do we engineer these factors into our environment?
What can inclusion look like? In our last post on including therapy sessions in the classroom, we talked about the range of service delivery models, from individual, pull-out sessions, to providing individual support within the classroom routine. In this post, we share two references that discuss what inclusion can look like in the school setting.
In the public school system, speech-language pathologists, physical therapists, and occupational therapists, with other therapists and professionals, are known as Related Service providers. Per legislation, the purpose of these services is to support the Individualized Education Program, so that the student may benefit from and participate in his education. And as therapists, we are always seeking out the most effective means of doing so! Integrating services into the classroom itself is one way of achieving valid change with our students. All students and staff benefit with successful integration, and the carry-over of strategies can greatly multiply treatment minutes for our students. But "pushing in" to the classroom has its challenges as well. This is the first post in our series about integration,what it is, why and how to do it, and overcoming the obstacles to achieve our own goals as therapists.
1. Camera and pictures as positive reinforcement. Kids love pictures - looking at them, taking them, being in them. Photographs of pets and children can be an ice breaker with a new student. You can reward a great job by letting the child take a picture of his work, and allowing the child to bring pictures from home to show the therapist can be especially rewarding - which bring us to number 2! 2. Photos as a conversation starter. Portable, interesting, and universal, bringing in a few photos of family and pets can be a great starting point for a speech group activity! Having a "show and tell" provides an opportunity to practice social skills as well as language use! Turn taking, adding details, and pronoun use are just a few ways a photo can get our students talking! On his blog, speech-language pathologist Erik Raj recently posted an entry in his blog titled "Using Your Cell Phone Photos as Speech Therapy Story Starters", check it out for more ideas! 3. Photos as data collection. Because digital cameras are so easily accessible, including cell phone cameras, it is both inexpensive and convenient to take photographs of student work. This can be a way to be greener, and use less paper. Use a dry erase board for writing practice, snap a quick picture, and erase! Photos can record writing samples that may be completed during a push-in classroom session, when student work may be handed in to a teacher. Also, taking a picture can support a school-based therapist's memory when a prized piece of artwork is brought home before the note is written!
The Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, Maryland has recently begun offering a new resource to families with children on the Autism spectrum. They are currently offering free developmental screenings for…
We know it is summer, but we would love your assistance with an upcoming event at Thomas Jefferson University! The second year OT students at TJU will be completing an…
[caption id="" align="alignright" width="240"] Playground (Photo credit: phalinn)[/caption] As the number of children diagnosed as overweight or obese increases, and a growing amount of evidence points to physical activity as a means of managing symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder, greater attention is being placed on recess and physical activity. Trends in leisure activities in young children, including video games and other stationary activities, as well as greater emphasis on academic activities in the schools, have resulted in fewer opportunities for movement. There is a wealth of information regarding the benefits of exercise, including the recent report, "Nation's kids need to get more physical." The Institute of Medicine is recommending that physical education become a core subject, and that schools allow daily opportunities for children to be physically active, for at least 60 minutes a day.