5 Questions from My School-Based OT Conferences

OT friends, you know how much I love traveling across our beautiful country delivering conferences to fellow therapists. Last week, I traversed to Albuquerque, NM, and Denver, CO. I can not begin to put the beauty of NM into words. The Sandia Mountains towered in a spectacular fashion and left me in awe. Denver, was rainy and snow moving in brought cold temperatures BUT the audience was HOT and ready to learn! PS: I enjoyed snapping a quick pic of the Blue Mustang at the airport……interesting.


As you know, in my books and blog, I call treatment ideas, ‘Out of the Pocket Tips.’  




Topic ONE: Know your state laws and whether or not your state follows NBCOT regulations.

I’m working to review each state’s laws, but I must admit, I have to focus on my own license. It’s your own responsibility to look at the laws in your state. You’ve worked hard for your license and you need to know what is expected of you regarding ethics, requirements, and continuing education. Here’s the link to AOTA’s Code of Ethics (2015).  

Although the AOTA cannot enforce the Code of Ethics if your state follows the Code then YOU need to read and understand what your professional responsibilities are. One of the huge benefits of this is that you can advocate for yourself. We need to be proactive and know when we are asked to complete a task that is unethical.


TOPIC TWO: Look back and refresh yourself with statistical terms.

Ouch! I may have touched a nerve there……forgive me! If we are to search for and utilize evidence-based practice, we need to understand what the basic statistical terms mean. I’m in the process of creating an hour-long on-demand course on basic statistics for OTs…… At one of the locations, I was asked more questions about basic statistics than at prior conferences. Remember, I would LOVE to support your learning in every way, but there are only so many hours in the day. Look up basic statistics on YouTube or do a simple Google search and you’ll be amazed at the free information you’ll find!


TOPIC THREE: OT is about relationship building.

Therapists tend to be kind-natured people. We are pleasers by nature. YOU set goals and expectations for your work. Others in your school do too. However, OT pushing into a classroom room or running a fine motor group during center time works for your students but doesn’t fit into the teacher’s daily plan. Communication on a regular basis will solve SO many problems.

The single most problem with communication is the illusion that it takes place.

Write a letter at the beginning of the year to introduce yourself and add a photo. Let the school know when you’ll be visiting and give them your contact information…..buying some donuts for the school’s secretary is always a great idea!


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TOPIC FOUR: Make a list of professionals in your area.

At the beginning of the school year, create a list of neurologists, functional vision experts, websites, and helpful resources for children. Why? Many offices offer free training or lunch and learn sessions. For example, school districts complete regular vision screenings. OTs know that having 20/20 vision does not equal smooth visual processing skills. Here’s my earlier post about functional vision.  

Many developmental optometrists in my area offer free open houses. I always go to meet the staff, give them my card, and discuss common reasons for referrals. **PLEASE check your school district’s requirements for giving caregivers information…..many districts are required to pay for any recommendations suggested made by related service professionals.


TOPIC FIVE: Occupational therapists should know the IEP and 504 plan law.

Our national organization, the AOTA, provides resources and ideas for helping OTs with advocacy. Many therapists transitioning to school-based OT need to familiarize themselves with the IDEA and payment sources for school-based OT. When working in an outpatient or clinic-based setting, the funding sources are often private insurance or Medicaid. ALL school-based OTs should understand both the IDEA and 504 laws. Click here to read more.  


If you would like to schedule a course with Cara, please fill out the contact form. We love hearing from you!

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