OT brain overload
Today I went to one school to do my weekly self-regulation “seminar” with some kids with various special education needs, saw one kid for half his normal time then bolted to a second school for two meetings in a row, then bolted back to the first school to do an evaluation. I brought in THREE giant bags of toys for this one evaluation – I really need to work on streamlining my evaluation tools.
I read a recent article in Advance – which I typically skim and find like one interesting thing in – from this lady who talked about pulling up to schools with like a carnival in her car, but is getting away from that (ie not bringing OT clinic to school) and trying to stay more in the classroom. I agree that is an ideal situation, but there are so many variables that affect it. For example, the teacher has to have an open mind/reasonable attitude about your role/presence. (And I realize being a good role model/example is a good way to start building that relationship….). But also, and somewhat even more importantly, SCHEDULING gets in the way. If you have tons of kids in tons of schools in tons of grades with tons of different “special” events and special subjects (ie rotating art, music, computers, etc), it is a NIGHTMARE to schedule kids, period. And that's pulling them out. Pushing-in requires really careful coordination with a teacher to always make sure they are going to be doing a “valid” exercise when you are in the room – ie, not watching a movie. Many teachers will say “Oh, 9am to 930 is great for writing” and then you show up and they are on the playground until 9:15 and you've lost half your session…
Don't get me wrong, I push-in when I have to legally and/or when I think it is most appropriate, but depending on caseload/availability, it's not always feasible….it seems like some schools have a global attitude that is more accepting than other schools….every school has its own culture! And I learn different areas of culture….like in all of my schools, the special ed teachers (“educational specialists”) tend to sit in their own rooms with each other at lunch whereas the lunch room is typically filled with general education teachers. I don't know if that's normal or not. I personally like doing both…you learn a lot in the lunch room/lunch time chatter in general. I guess gen ed sticks together the way special ed sticks together, and occasionally we get teachers who are bridges who like to hang in both areas!
I REALLY love working in my school system this year. Last year I was insanely stressed out learning my new job in the midst of IEP season. I had some great training but there is still a learning curve. This year I feel much calmer, even in the midst of ten thousand evaluations. I don't know why. Especially since I have some really challenging cases this year in terms of advocate involvement. 🙂
I think one of my big strengths is communication with parents via e-mail…..it's a lot of fun sharing what kids are doing with parents. I type fast/write fast/think fast/read fast so I get a lot of joy from that.
My brain feels full today with all the things I am trying to figure out. I know I have an eval Friday and Monday at one school for two young kids, that I have three evals I need to write up ASAP for kids ranging from Kindergarden to 5th grade, that I have more I need to schedule ASAP to stay within legal timeline, that I need to stop by to get some more theratubing from a fellow OT for my kids chairs and give her a pair of preschool scissors Faber-Castell has that I love, bring in some fidget choices for another child, and then of course just my typical treatments/consultations etc. Tomorrow I have a full day of kids that I need to plan for tonight, organize my toys for, etc…..typically I do a combination of either fine motor or visual motor or both + some handwriting….obviously it all depends on the kids goals though. Sometimes its a little scary putting all this out into the world….not that I think I am saying anything horrrible, but I definitely leave myself open to criticism.
My newest favorite tool is LAVA/WORMS. Sizing/line orientation can be a big issue for kids using the 3-line paper with a dotted middle line. I got the suggestion from a special ed student that LAVA works well. So you take a red pencil and cover the dotted middle line with red which is your lava. There are tall strong letters that can go through the lava like h, l, k….but also baby letters like a, e, r, that will burn if they touch the lava. Incidentally, if their letters drop below the line and they aren't supposed to, ie the a gets a little too low, the worms attack. The worms are only okay with familar tails like y, g, p….anything else is trouble. I draw in tiny worms and say Oh nooo the worms are attacking if they go too low, and I draw little lines coming from the top of the letter and say Ohhh ITS bURNING ITS BURNING if they go too high and touch the lava …….most of my kids respond really well to the drama of lava/worms.
The two biggest issues I run across is A) kids wanting to draw their own lava line and making a mess of it, and B) wanting to draw in worms/other bugs too and it gets messy…..but seriously, I've seen some really nice handwriting come out of the lava/worms. 🙂
This is the longest post I've had in a long time. I need to be thinking of a blog carnival post for World OT day coming up.
I still promise to respond to all my OT emails soon. I am getting 1-2 blog emails a day now which is a little crazy considering all my best posts are like 4 years old lol.