All kids love visuals, and the more attractive and personally meaningful, the better. From picture-based communication systems, to visual cues for articulation sounds, pictures can support a wide range of…
In our previous post we looked at a classroom through an occupational therapist's point of view. In our second post, we will look at the classroom through a new set of eyes - in this case, the speech and language therapist! Speech and language pathologists work to support children who are experiencing difficulties with communication. The areas that a speech and language pathologist may address include: articulation, language, voice, fluency, and swallowing. Per the American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA), children with a speech and/or language impairment may struggle with participating in classroom activities, interacting with others, developing literacy, and learning.
As we all know, engineering change in our students in the confines of 30 minutes a week can be an uphill battle! How can we share our knowledge and achieve…
In previous posts, we have talked about what classroom integration is, examples of classroom integration, collaborative consultation, and natural environments. In part 5 of this discussion on school-based practice, we take on another factor that influences successful classroom integration of related services: parent perception.Parents are experts on their own children, and are key members of the IEP team. As such, it is very important that the relationships between therapists and families are mutually trusting and respectful. Maintaining open communication is a way to form and maintain a relationship with parents.
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.
[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.