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.
A great place to start learning about integration is an issue of Individualizing Inclusion in Child Care, published by the University of North Carolina Greensboro, titled Integrating Therapy into the Classroom.
This article describes the “continuum of service delivery models”, from most segregated (pull out, individual sessions), to most integrated (individual within classroom routine/consultation, and the models that fall in between. Each type of delivery has benefits and drawbacks, and a student’s individual needs and level of participation need to be taken into account when determining what is most appropriate. Traditionally, therapy tends to occur in a pull-out session, but for therapists who feel the need to change and grow, and work towards reaching all students in their very least restrictive environments – we extend a challege! Set your own goal toward incorporating integration into your practice. Just as we do with our students, look at baseline when setting our professional goals. What model of service delivery do you currently favor? What do you hope to utilize in the future?