Pediatric Therapeutic Services

Occupational Therapy Success Story: Pencil Power™ at a School District in Montgomery County, PA

Occupational Therapy Success

As you know, the COVID-19 pandemic presented a wide range of challenges for school administrators, therapists, and educators alike. Pediatric Therapeutic Services (PTS) is dedicated to developing and delivering programs that help students catch up and build the skills they need to succeed without overwhelming teachers or therapists.

To find out how we can support your school, learn about PTS’s Director of Clinical Services, Jennifer Cancro, and her success with implementing our proprietary Pencil Power™ program at a school district in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.

PTS Collaborated with Therapists and Administrators to Find a Solution to Increasing Student Needs

Jen was an integral part of implementing the Pencil Powerprogram in one of the districts she works with in Montgomery County. During the extended periods of remote learning, many students did not have the opportunity to practice or build the developmental skills necessary to reach the next steps in their educational achievement. This included a lack of opportunity to practice key skills, like cutting, coloring, and drawing, which are vital for brain development and prerequisites for writing, reading, and math. PTS and the school sought to improve students’ writing skills to align with the PA Core standards. To achieve this, it took a true collaborative effort between PTS, therapists, and the district.

Pencil Power™ Offered Students the Opportunity to Practice Foundational Skills at the Classroom Level

What students really needed, in most cases, was an opportunity to practice these vital skills, not an Individual Education Program (IEP). The school principals and special education administrators in the district collaborated with Jen and the PTS therapy teams to apply a Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) approach by teaching educators how to implement our Pencil Power™ program. The therapy team screened all 400 first-grade students in the district across eight elementary schools. This helped them determine how each student was performing with handwriting skills and who would be eligible for the Tier 2 Pencil Power™ program. This acted as baseline data for the small group intervention. Depending on the preferences of the principal in each school, students received either a whole class or focus group intervention. Occupational Therapists (OTs) or Instructional Support Teachers (ISTs) led the eligible students through the program for 30 minutes once per week for six weeks. Every skill introduced each week built on the previous one, enabling students to advance their handwriting skills step by step in the Least Restrictive Environment.

Most Students Showed a 20% Improvement with Just 30 Minutes per Week

At the end of the first Pencil Power™ program, the team conducted a post-screening and found that 116 students were eligible for additional support. Every child had progressed, and most students in the district showed a 20-25% improvement in handwriting with an average of 20% in skill development.

At this point, the team determined which students needed another small-group program. Only 12 students needed a more individualized Tier 3 intervention for an additional six weeks. In the end, only seven students required an IEP/were eligible for special education and related services.

Not only did every student receive the support they needed to develop these necessary skills, but PTS helped the district contain costs by ensuring only the right students ended up on therapy caseloads.

Meet the Demand of Increasing Student Needs with PTS

PTS has dedicated therapists and Clinical Directors like Jennifer who are passionate about supporting all students. Contact us to find out which programs can benefit your students’ needs in an efficient and cost-effective way today!

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