OT, PT & Speech are NOT the same at school

I wish you could've heard the conversation I had last night with an Occupational Therapist who works in both the school system and a private therapy clinic.

I mean it's one thing for me to share with you my experiences as a former special education teacher and decades of special education consulting and it's a whole other level when you hear the experience from someone who is still in the trenches everyday.

First, let me just disclose... she loves her job in both locations, but she had to accept that they serve VERY different purposes.

At school, she's limited to how many minutes she provide, how she can advocate for a child, what tools she can use and what tasks she can tackle.

In her clinic she has opportunities to get creative and serve the child and family in whatever manner is needed to get results.

Now, you'd think this would make her dislike her job at the school, but it doesn't. It's just different. She told me over and over how she wished parents knew the difference of clinic vs school therapy and how a child may need one or both. There's never one answer. The therapies are different. Children are different. 

Here's the sticky part, I have teachers, therapists and admins all reading this along with special needs parents. Some of you aren't going to like the action steps I'm going to give you because they can be uncomfortable. That's ok. Get uncomfortable. Being uncomfortable and opening up the conversation between the entire team is necessary so we can keep the child's needs first. They need us (the entire team) communicating... so here's the plan...

If your child is receiving therapies at school, and you don't know the answers to the questions below, email the therapist about these 3 things. (Therapists, please share these with the parents, even if they don't ask!)

  1. Do you know where your child receives therapy at school?
  2. Do you know if there are other kids in the therapy sessions with them?
  3. Do you know what data is being collected during therapy sessions?

Start the conversation.

Parents, I encourage you to not expect "clinical" level of services at school, but I do want you to pursue the supports and therapies needed for your child to be successful in being prepared for further education, employment and independent living. 

School team members... we know you're eating PB & J sandwiches while walking down the hall between your gazillion kids on your caseload. We got you. When we are advocating for better for a child, we are advocating for a better opportunity for you to show your awesomeness as a therapist in school. 

Are you ready to make the school system a better place? You can become a Master IEP Coach, get the details here. 

Parents, do you need help getting special education answers and navigating the system? You can get start right now, just click this link. 

We're all in this together...

With Hope & Determination Always,

Catherine Whitcher, M.Ed

P.S. Last night I had a blast connecting with local rockstar service providers who are on a mission, just like you and me. We aren't settling for less in the special needs community... never, ever.