One of my private clients just called me for some backup. Her son, who is on the autism spectrum, may lose some of his OT sessions due to his increased handwriting ability (thank you; we have been very working hard on it!), but no further formal testing could be done before schools were shut down due to COVID-19. His fine motor scores were in the average range. Everyone knows he is struggling with attention and behavior in class. Everyone.
My strategy? I gave her the Sensory Profile for ages 3-10 (SP) to complete. Almost all of his scores were in either the “probable difference” or “definite difference” categories. This means that his behavior on most of over 125 different items is between one and two standard deviations from the mean. Even without a statistics course, you can understand that this is likely to be impacting his behavior in the classroom!
Many of the modulation sections of the SP, including “modulation of visual input affecting emotional responses” and “modulation of movement affective activity level” directly relate to observed school behaviors. Scores in “multi sensory processing” and “auditory processing” were equally low. Think about how teaching is done in a group: it is visual and verbal. Kids have to sit to learn. They have to tolerate being challenged.
This is why OT in the schools is more than how to hold a pencil. We address the foundational skills that allow children to build executive functioning skills. Without them, all the routines, prompts, reward systems and consequences aren’t going to be very effective.
School therapists cannot test your child accurately when schools are closed due to COVID-19. But parents can respond to a questionnaire, and it can be sent and scored remotely. The Sensory Processing Measure is also able to be completed remotely. These scores will help your therapist and your district understand the importance of OT for your child. When school does resume, related services are going to be essential services!
For more information on how to work on OT issues at home, read Using A Vertical Easel in Preschool? WHERE You Draw on it Matters! and Does Your Older Child Hate Writing? Try HWT’s Double-Lined Paper.