Teenagers can be difficult. Any parent or educator of adolescents can confirm this. It's normal to push the envelope with authority during those tumultuous years from thirteen to twenty. But most kids even out and straighten up by the time graduation rolls around. Unfortunately, there are too many students who never make it to graduation.
But many teenage students are at high risk for poor outcomes in school, and subsequently, in their adult lives. Kids who require more discipline are most often the ones who find themselves being suspended.
This interrupts their learning, strains relationships with peers and teachers and increases the rate of dropping out of school. It's a vicious cycle of poor adjustment, anger, delinquency and lower graduation rates.
At risk students present a challenge for teachers and administrators who are not trained in specific interventions for children who have mental health issues. Many school districts are implementing Occupational Therapy in an effort to reduce suspensions and encourage at-risk kids to stay in school. The hope is that harsher discipline and punishment can be improved by restorative practices, such as occupational therapy.
Occupational therapists help kids cope with the stresses of school and family, and resolve conflict without breaking the rules. This approach in Pittsburgh Public schools has shown promising results. "OTs can work with a group that stands to benefit from our participatory and person-oriented approach to solving problems".
The focus is on the individual in community, working through relationships at school, and in the family to help the student adapt socially to the school environment instead of acting out inappropriately and facing suspension or expulsion. The goal is to keep students in the classroom and see them graduate from high school instead of graduating into the court system. Compassion instead of discipline is a superior approach to achieve better outcomes for at-risk kids to complete their education successfully.
Occupational Therapy is a growing specialty everywhere. To find out more about this and other Allied Health opportunities, please contact us.
To learn more about this and related topics, visit the Healthcare section of our blog.
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