Yu-Lun Chen, Kristie Patten; Shifting Focus From Impairment to Inclusion: Expanding Occupational Therapy for Neurodivergent Students to Address School Environments. Am J Occup Ther 2021;75(3):7503347010. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2020.040618
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© 2021 American Occupational Therapy Association
Social participation in schools is critical to student academic and psychosocial outcomes. Neurodivergent students, however, often experience environmental barriers to social participation, such as lack of awareness and negative attitudes among peers and school staff, including teachers. Although authentic social participation is composed of dynamic interactions between a person and the external environments, occupational therapy’s role in addressing student social participation primarily focuses on internal social characteristics. Barriers within school environments often remain unaddressed, with no clear role for occupational therapy practitioners. We advocate an expansion of occupational therapy’s role to address school environments, especially the social, physical, and policy aspects, to promote social participation and inclusion. We also discuss the need for change and present a framework guiding intervention in school environments.
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