Spotlight on OT/PT

May 30, 2017

 Jump! Hop! Skip!…2017/05/

Cut! Color! Tie!


Do you remember when you took your first step? Probably not! How about when you first pincer-grasped a cheerio to pop into your mouth? No? That’s because most of us were too young to hold those memories. Most people pick up these types of developmental skills early in life, too early for us to recall.

But here at Crossroads, many of our kids have delays in developmental skills. They need a little extra help to acquire them. A little encouragement, some extra practice, and voila, before you know it, those skills are solid!

That’s what you’ll notice if you spend any time at all in our Occupational Therapy / Physical Therapy room. The crew works with kids throughout the building who have needs for their services in accordance with each students’ IEP (individualized education plan). So while “L” is mastering drawing a shape, “E” is tackling jumping forward. While “Li” is getting becoming a whiz with zipping and unzipping a front-zipping garment, “Md” is donning and doffing his own sneakers and socks with speed and precision. So much going on! So many gains!

The OT’s (Occupational Therapists) are Meaghan, Carrie and Kaley. Of course all of the OT skills are important and if you ask each of them what is the most important OT skill to learn, they each have a favorite. Meaghan likes working on cutting, because she sees so many gains once kids finally catch on to what to do, and it’s something kids naturally enjoy. Carrie likes working on beginning drawing and writing skills. She delights in knowing that her students will be able to communicate first through lines and pictures, and later through words. Kaley prizes helping students develop fine motor strength, and inventing novel ways of working out the little fingers.

Here Meaghan is working on self care skills with a little guy who works hard and earns the swing, his favorite positive reinforcer.

He’s not alone! The swing is one of the awesome things about working hard in OT/PT! Just about everyone works hard when they know there’s this cherished prize after!

“M” works hard at copying a square that Carrie  models, and then hits the swing with his blanket, his favorite positive reinforcer too.


“J” works this batch of putty to discover small gems inside, something Kaley created for him to help “J” improve his fine motor strength. He pulls out a small pink bead with delight, holding it up to share his prize.

Carrie sets up steps for “L” who is making excellent gains with drawing requested shapes. First comes a vertical line, then horizontal. Next there’s a cross and then a circle. A square and then a triangle. You can see that “L” has come far! Carrie says the steps of each shape she requests as she is setting up the model, and “L” repeats them, guiding herself with increased finesse.

Meanwhile on the other side of the room, Joe, the Physical Therapist here at Crossroads, works on gross motor skills. The important skills to him are those that build balance, strength and endurance and his favorite skill to teach is using stairs, since it is so functional and life long. He relishes seeing the kids pick up the skill sometimes slowly at first but then boundless in their growth.

Building core strength, balance and stability is important to all of a kid’s gross body movements, and Joe’s ways of getting his students to meet goals are ingenious and fun.

With Joe, students also practice skills such as catching and throwing, walking and running, jumping and hopping. Being rolled on a balance ball and sitting up on it is like a fun ride for “E” as she builds core strength and balance. Catching a ball is a fun game for “T” as she increases hand-eye coordination and aim. Jumping on a trampoline is a blast and a half for “L” as he builds lower body strength and moving balance. Climbing up a matte is a cool thing to do to get to a toy on the windowsill, as “E” and “J” build uphill inclined mobile strength and endurance.

Gains and growth are observed as a child performs a skill – growth which is documented in data collection, and graphed to be analyzed for changes to the way the goal is run. That is the crux of all programming at Crossroads – an applied behavior analysis school – and is evident as these therapists take data in the students’ binders and clipboards where steps and sets sheets are prepared ahead of time and followed not only in the therapy room but across the rest of the students’ programs as well. For example, a child might work on doffing at bathroom time with his classroom team, when it is a natural time to utilize that skill – our systems allow the classroom to prompt or assist the child in the same way that his OT has instructed; consistency leads to better success, and chances for generalization to new environments.

Our students love going to OT and PT and make excellent gains because of our phenomenal therapists. Thank you Meaghan, Carrie, Kaley and Joe for all of your work and devotion to the children of Crossroads Center for Children.

Our students love going to OT and PT and make excellent gains because of our phenomenal therapists. Thank you Meaghan, Carrie, Kaley and Joe for all of your work and devotion to the children of Crossroads Center for Children.

Pictured from left to right: Carrie, Kaley, Meaghan, Joe

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