Provider of occupational therapy services Beth Kaplan, COTA and Speech/Language Pathologist Melissa Jacob, M.A., CCC-SLP, TSSLD are teaming up to provide integrated services to students at William O. Schaefer Elementary School. “Our principal, Sheila Beglin, really promoted this approach by co-locating our workspaces to make it easy for us to collaborate and strategize on new ways to work with our students,” said Kaplan.
Sessions co-led by Kaplan and Jacob are designed to incorporate both speech/language goals with fine motor skills goals. Currently, 45 students receive direct OT services and 78 students receive speech/language therapy at WOS. These integrated lessons began in the 2019-2020 school year and they continued to do joint sessions on Zoom throughout the entirety of virtual learning. Kaplan and Jacob hold joint sessions 2-3 times a month and they each have targeted students in these lessons so the students continue to receive their mandated levels of services.
A current project inspired by the book, “Put Me in the Zoo” by Robert Lopshire, began with a read-aloud in the “sensory hut” within the therapy room. Fidget toys are available to promote focus and relieve stress while students listen to the story. After reading the book together, students created artwork with hole punching tools to improve bilateral skills and finger/hand strength. At the same time, they worked on speech and language goals by working on expressive language and basic linguistic concepts to compare and contrast different shapes, colors and sizes in their collages.
“We consult with each other about the needs of students that we share and develop activities that can meet both speech/language and OT goals,” said Jacob. “One of the great things about these joint sessions is that even if a student was initially receiving just speech/language services or just OT services, they can still reap the benefits of participating in both parts of the lesson.”