As Students Become Adults: The Role of Occupational Therapy in the Transition Process As Students Become Adults: The Role of Occupational Therapy in the Transition Process

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Journal of Occupational Therapy, Schools, & Early Intervention


Occupational Therapy


Under The Individuals with Disability Education Improvement Act of 2004, transition services for students with disabilities should be designed within a results-oriented process that facilitates a student's movement from school to postschool activities based on the student's individual strengths, needs, and preferences. As school to postschool transition encompasses myriad changes in life roles, demands, and skills, choosing a suitable high school placement is a crucial decision in preparation for transition from student to adult. Occupational therapy has essential and unique professional skills to collaborate with teams to support, improve, and address the varied factors that encompass the transition process. However, school-based occupational therapists tend to discontinue services earlier in a student's career, with fewer than 40% of school-based occupational therapists addressing the unique needs of adolescents (Schmitz, 2005; Brubaker, 2001; Kardos & White, 2005). This case study describes the collaborative process of one middle school student, his family, and his school team in search of the most suitable and beneficial high school placement to meet his individual needs and goals. Integral to this project was the experiential exploration of barriers, challenges, the resolving of miscommunications, the collaborative goal-setting process, the creation of the occupational profile, and a working therapeutic relationship. The parents perceived that the involvement of an occupational therapy perspective in transition planning for their child resulted in an improved experience in working with school staff and an appropriate high school placement and provided the groundwork for the development of a suitable and challenging high school program.