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Issue Date: July 2015
Published Online: July 01, 2015
Updated: April 30, 2020
Developing the Role of Occupational Therapy in Transitioning Programming for Students With Disabilities
Author Affiliations
  • Eastern Kentucky University
Article Information
Rehabilitation, Participation, and Disability / School-Based Practice / Health Services Research and Education
Poster Session   |   July 01, 2015
Developing the Role of Occupational Therapy in Transitioning Programming for Students With Disabilities
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July 2015, Vol. 69, 6911510210. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2015.69S1-PO6086
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July 2015, Vol. 69, 6911510210. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2015.69S1-PO6086
Abstract

Date Presented 4/18/2015

Occupational therapists have the expertise to improve outcomes for students with disabilities. Yet they are rarely engaged in required transition services of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). In this research, I present how therapists developed a new role and implemented transition services.

SIGNIFICANCE: To improve quality-of-life outcomes of students with disabilities, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires all students with disabilities to have a transition plan to better prepare them for adulthood. Despite the fact that occupational therapists are the experts in function and in many of the evidence-based transition practices, such as life skills and technology, rarely are these therapists part of the student’s transition team. Because occupational therapists are uniquely qualified to help students with disabilities, they should be involved in transition services. In this research, I document how a group of school-based therapists developed a role in transition services to help others learn about the process.
INNOVATION: Many school-based therapists focus on younger children and handwriting. As technology expands and the need for handwriting diminishes, occupational therapists will need to demonstrate their ability to contribute in other ways. This research helps to demonstrate how a group of therapists expanded into a nontraditional role utilizing their function and occupational knowledge from their rehabilitative background to enhance their practice.
RESEARCH QUESTION: In this study, I attempted to answer the following research question: How can occupational therapists increase their role in transition programing for students with disabilities?
METHOD: In this study, I used an action research design with the team members setting the research agenda. The setting took place in a western state. The team of participants consisted of 6 occupational therapists, a lead therapist, a state transition administrator, and 2 investigators. The team and the researchers were connected through the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) and the IDEA Partnership.
Data were collected from the team members via 75 personal reflections, transcriptions of 13 team meetings, and 4 semistructured interviews. Using grounded theory, I will analyze the data with HyperRESEARCH software to identify emerging themes.
RESULTS: Data are still in the process of being analyzed. Early results indicate that when occupational therapists focus more on life skills and transition, the students improve. As a result, therapists viewed transition as enhancing their practice.
CONCLUSION: Although the results are still emerging, they indicate that therapists practicing in transition improve students’ functioning while enhancing their own school-based practice.