OT Motor Program

Rosanna Roberts

Since our inception in 1982, the Motor Development Program in Converse County Schools has been helping improve the motor abilities of school age students. Our Motor Development Team is comprised of adapted physical education specialists (APE), a school-based occupational therapist and physical therapy services. We provide services to students with identified needs in the area of gross, fine, visual and sensory motor areas.

Adapted physical education (APE) is physical education which may be adapted or modified to address the individualized needs of students who have gross motor developmental delays. Our instructors assist identified students with successful participation in general physical education classes as well as providing supplemental services for gross motor, fitness and recreational development. For all practical purposes, Adapted Physical Education IS developmentally appropriate physical education at its finest. It involves differentiating instruction so the physical activity is as appropriate for the person with a disability as it is for a person without a disability. The emphasis of adapted physical education is to facilitate participation of students with disabilities with typically developing peers in age-appropriate activities. Services may include: assessing and evaluating individual student needs in the areas of gross motor, fitness and recreational skills; participation in planning and implementing IEP's for identified students; providing instruction in the least restrictive environment and collaborating and consulting with staff and parents.

The APE teacher is a direct service provider, as contrasted with physical or occupational therapists. These therapies are considered related services and are provided to the child with disabilities only if he/she needs them to benefit from instruction. Special physical education (APE) is a federally mandated component of special education services [U.S.C.A. 1402 (25)] and ensures that physical education is provided to the student with a disability as part of the child's special education services.

During the past school year, we added a full-time school based occupational therapist who services students with identified needs in the areas of fine, visual, sensory motor and activities of daily living. Duties of a school based occupational therapist include but are not limited to: assessing and evaluating individual student needs in the areas of fine motor, sensory motor, visual motor and activities of daily living, determining if deficits are great enough to require intervention, planning and implementing intervention to improve student skills and success, observing and problem solving, serving as an IEP team member, collaborating and consulting with teachers and staff members, communicating with parents and families, and reporting on student growth and change. Students in the district have benefited greatly from this staff addition. Our occupational therapist also acts as a consultant to our general education staff and student populations by developing and facilitating tier two and three interventions for students that are in need of interventions in the fine, visual and sensory motor areas.

Our physical therapy services provide students with physical and mobility challenges appropriate access to their educational environment. Physical therapy staff assists teams to ensure safety, accessibility, and emergency evacuation procedures for students with special movement needs. They are involved in the assessment and service planning for students on Individual Education Plans (IEPs) and make recommendations for adaptations and modifications in equipment, the school environment, and student positioning. With their help, our motor team provides training to school staff for safe lifting and extension programming to meet student needs.

All of our schools are equipped with state of the art motor labs that are used to assist our students with the development of motor, fitness, recreation and self-regulation skills. The labs at each respective school contain large and small sensory/motor tools. These tools can be used by students to assist with daily struggles of maintaining attention, sensory integration difficulties, and motor delays. Some tools are large and stay in the motor lab. Other tools are checked out to students or classrooms and are used in all school environments. Motor staff spends a great deal of time training students and staff members on the correct use of the tools and equipment. They also offer training to staff and parents on programming that can assist children in motor and sensory areas.

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