If you have worked as an occupational therapist in a hospital or rehabilitation center, you know how fulfilling the job can be. But switching gears and working in a school setting can bring additional rewards and benefits.
Occupational therapists are needed in public and private schools to work with children from kindergarten through high school and up to age 21. Therapists may also find employment in early intervention programs working with preschool age children.
School-based occupational therapists focus on addressing educational needs to promote students participation and performance in school. This may involve focusing on sensory and functional needs, as well as social skills. If you’re considering working as a school based occupational therapist, consider some following benefits.
One benefit of working as an occupational therapist in a school setting is the variety it offers. You may work with children of different ages with a wide variety of challenges. For example, you might treat students who have attention deficit disorder, autism, cerebral palsy, and language delays. If you enjoy a career where every day may be different, working in a school setting may be a good fit.
School therapists provide individual therapy, group movement classes, homework help and more. But as a school based OT, you have the opportunity to be even more creative. For example, you might play games, get messy doing crafts or use technology to help children meet their goals. Therapists may also have to get creative to modify a child’s environment to overcome disabilities.
Occupational therapists working in schools may enjoy a collaborate environment. Therapists often work together with teachers, aides, parents and school counselors to develop and implement goals for students. Working in a team environment can be motivating for everyone involved.
Great Working Hours
One thing about working in a school setting is your working hours may be ideal. Although residential programs exist, which may require various hours, most school-based therapists work during the day with weekends off. Hospital and nursing home based occupational therapists often work weekends and evening hours. Depending on the school you work for, you may follow a traditional school calendar and have summers and holidays off.
Watching Children Meet Their Goals
Although occupational therapists in settings, such as a hospital, see their patients’ progress, they may not treat them for extended periods. OTs in a school setting may work with the same children for the entire school year or even multiple years. School-based therapists may have the chance to watch kids meet their goals, improve their skills, and exceed academic expectations.
If you decide working as a school based occupational therapist is something you’re interested in, you may be in luck. There is currently a high demand for occupational therapists in school settings. In addition to permanent positions, there are opportunities for travel assignments.
The demand for occupational therapists in schools is partly due to federal law. Federal laws indicate schools must provide education services for children with disabilities, and one of the services they provide is occupational therapy.