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The Changing Role of Special Education in Occupational Therapy

Posted by Brian Spence on Sep 9, 2019 8:00:00 AM

Special Education, Behavioral Health, Occupational TherapyThere have been significant changes in how special education institutions deliver therapy services to their students. In the past, speech, physical, or occupational therapy was conducted inside rooms reserved for therapy sessions. Paraprofessionals would help students with special needs, overcome their behavioral challenges and mental health issues. But general ED teachers seldom participated with students who had IEPs.

In recent years, the Department of Education has passed laws in favor of educational reform. This means more accommodations for learning disabled students when they attended public schools. It would encourage those students to stay in their own communities rather than be isolated from their peers in a separate school even if they did have different individual needs.

Making Special Education Services Affordable for Local Schools

However, local schools often don't have the resources to provide disabled students with a diverse range of services. Larger schools have found the solution, which is to offer them intensive support during integrated co-teaching and general education classes. They can accomplish this by adopting a culture of collaboration within a school building where elementary classes are being taught.

Many of these teachers can approach learning with a flexible mindset where they aren't simply telling families that the school "doesn't have the budget" when asked about the next steps in transitioning students to general education classes. Speech and language disabilities are fairly common in special needs children, as their primary struggles have to do with reading out loud.

Intervention Programs Emerging From Teaching K-1 Reading

It explains why the Department of Education's Chief Academic Officer is introducing an Early Childhood Summer Intensive Reading Pilot since it will improve how reading is taught from kindergarten to 1st-grade. Reading intervention programs should give instructors the right approach toward reading comprehension. On top of that, there's another special education initiative being developed: A three-part webinar series to help guide paraprofessionals who work with challenging students.

The format and content of these webinars will shed background on professional teaching in schools, especially the need for discussions about which ideas and strategies are most conducive to learning. It could very well end up creating strong teacher-paraprofessional partnerships in public schools. Paraprofessionals still need time to adjust to the new policies in special education therapy.

If you are interested in learning more about this and related topics, visit the Education, Behavioral Health, and Healthcare sections of our blog.


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