Occupational Therapy - Definition
Occupational therapy (OT) is a regulated health profession that focuses on promoting health and well-being through occupation. Occupation can be defined as everything that a person does during the course of everyday life to function to their potential. Occupational therapists therefore work to help people become as independent and as functional as possible within these occupations that include self-care, activities of daily living, productive and leisure activities.
Occupational therapists have a Bachelor and/or Master’s degree that provide them with the skills and knowledge to work collaboratively with people of all ages and abilities who experience obstacles in different areas of occupation. These obstacles may be as a result of illness or disability, and/or barriers in the social, institutional and/or physical environment. In the school environment a child’s occupational performance may be impaired by physical, developmental, sensory, attentional, behavioral and/or learning challenges.
Lester B. Pearson School Board Occupational Therapy Services
At the Lester B. Pearson School Board (LBPSB), occupational therapy services are based on a consultative model and no direct individual therapy is provided. Occupational therapy is an essential complementary educational service for students with special needs aged 4-21 years throughout the school board. The primary mandate of the LBPSB occupational therapist is to support the inclusion of students presenting with high needs due to their physical, developmental and/or sensory challenges. The occupational therapist works collaboratively with the school resource team, the Student Services Department team, the identified student and his or her parents or guardians. Occupational therapists use a systematic approach based on evidence and professional reasoning in their evaluation, analysis and intervention planning.
The role of the occupational therapist at LBPSB is to support the school team in promoting the functional abilities of the identified student in the school setting; to determine the impact of the student’s challenges on his/her successful school functioning and integration; and to provide recommendations in areas of physical adaptations (adaptive equipment, assistive devices, technology), activity adaptations and/or activity modification related to the student’s success plan in order to maximize their learning and functioning in the school environment.
At the Lester B Pearson School Board, occupational therapy services may include: individual student screening, consultation and/or assessment; consultation with the school resource team, classroom and specialist teachers; recommendation of compensatory and/or rehabilitation based activities to be integrated into school activities and the school environment; training and support of school staff for the implementation of recommendations; evaluation and provision of recommendations to optimize the accessibility of the Lester B. Pearson School Board schools; education and in-services within the school environment. Due to the limited availability of occupational therapy services within the school board students’ needs are prioritized and managed by each therapist based on their individual caseload demands.
Information adapted from The Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT), l’ordre des ergothérapeutes du Québec (OEQ) and le Regroupement des ergothérapeutes du milieu scolaire – School based occupational therapist association (REMS-SOTA) resources.