School Based Occupational Therapy Project Update

Over the past year, and with thanks to the Late Late Toy Show Grant from The Community Foundation of Ireland,  Sensational Kids have been providing a free Occupational Therapy Service to children in two schools. We are so grateful to read the project outcome report which highlights that by the end of the School Based Occupational Therapy project, 149 primary school students across 2 schools in West Cork, were able to access direct therapy support services from our paediatric school based occupational therapist on a regular basis in their school environment at zero cost to the families or school.

This included class screening, implementation of strategies to support sensory and emotional regulation, strategies to support fine motor and gross motor skill development and direct group therapy supporting gross motor and fine motor skill development, sensory and emotional regulation and preparation for secondary school. 45 children also received additional therapy supports for 2 weeks during July provision. Prior to this no children had access to Occupational Therapy services within the school environment.

Parents and teachers provided verbal feedback noting improvement in confidence and engagement in the learning environment. A teacher survey indicated that 100% of staff felt the OT service was very valuable, the support met their expectations, and they would like an OT full time in their school.

Feedback from parents and teachers has also indicated that support from this project has improved children’s confidence and ability to engage in the classroom environment, self-awareness, self-esteem, peer interactions, communication, endurance, ball skills, balance, rhythm and timing and fine motor skills.

31 Teaching staff have been upskilled in several areas through workshops and direct Occupational Therapy support in the classroom. Staff have expressed increased understanding of behaviour as communication, increased confidence in implementing strategies to support children, improved ability to identify needs, increased use of strategies to support regulation in the classroom. Staff are more aware of different needs in the classroom, resulting in more insight and calmer classrooms.

The grant has provided us with information to develop a proof-of-concept document that will be linked to the latest research in the field of school based occupational therapy. This will be used to support further advocacy for this valuable service and we hope to be able to use this to support the wider educational and therapy sector in the future.