Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Plan an OT/PT Showcase

Have you ever considered hosting an occupational and physical therapy showcase at the school where you work?  You could invite parents, teachers and students to come check out all the assistive technology and adapted equipment that is available for students.  When therapists hop in and out of classrooms and homes they only see a slice of that child's life.  Parents and teachers are with the children many more hours in the day therefore offering the most insight.  When you stop to think about it, parents and teachers may not know what is even available especially along a continuum.  For example, perhaps a student is using some simple adaptive equipment like a slant board.  There are many different slant boards available along with many homemade versions.  Perhaps if a parent or teacher spots a certain feature of one versus another for a student, that will trigger an idea of what would work best.  Same could be said for other equipment including bigger equipment such a wheelchairs or standing frames.  Therapists tend to recommend equipment from a medically and educationally based perspective of what the child needs but don't always take into account the perspective of the parent or teacher.  If they are not on board than we all know the equipment usually does not get utilized (understandably so).

So here are some suggestions:

1.  Have an open house night where you exhibit any adaptive equipment or assistive technology and its uses.  Separate areas of the room perhaps by handwriting tools, technology tools, adaptive equipment and larger equipment.  Make sure information is available for what each tool is used for.

2.  Provide a demonstration of certain tools - explain why certain pencil grips are chosen, demonstrate word prediction programs, demonstrate different walkers, etc.

3.  If you have a loads of equipment to showcase break it up into different nights therefore parents/teachers can come on the nights they are interested in the topic.

4.  If you do not have time to host an actual showcase, how about create some poster presentations to leave by the room.  This will inform teachers and parents what is available as they walk by.  You could have different themes each month.

5.  Love the idea of a showcase?  Invite local vendors to bring wheelchairs, standing frames, orthotics, computer software, etc.  Advertise it well and you would get attendees from other communities including therapists.

6.  Take it one step further and make it a fund raiser.  Do you need money for an adapted bicycle, iPad or handwriting program?  Set up your showcase and charge a small admission fee.

Occupational and physical therapists have so much information to share that just can not occur during a 30 minute session.  Start thinking outside the box to provide educational insight for all members of the special education team.  

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