Occupational Therapy for a High School Student

Female mentor teacher working with male teenage high school students in library
Table of Contents

Occupational therapy (OT) is a type of health care that helps you to carry out the things you want to, need to, or are expected to do. Although people often associate occupational therapy with people who have experienced an injury or have a disability, Occupational Therapists work with a range of people, including high school students.

Occupational therapists can work with high school students who have particular conditions, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), learning disabilities, physical disabilities, sensory processing difficulties, or have trouble with emotional regulation, fine and gross motor skills, and executive function skills.

In particular for high school students, occupational therapists can help with transition planning, meaning helping students transition from high school to college, university, or work.

How Occupational Therapists Can Help

Occupational therapists can help work on moving your body, taking care of yourself, and engaging in both academic and household work. Occupational therapy helps you in adopting new things. It also teaches you the use of tools when needed, to perform a job.

In short, occupational therapy enables you to take part in any activity independently. So depending on what area your child has trouble with, occupational therapists may be able to help develop those skills.

Tasks in Which Occupational Therapy Helps

To be specific, occupational therapy can help you to do the following:

  • Eat without the help of others
  • Cherish your hobbies and engage in them
  • Write without any assistance
  • Take a shower
  • Dress yourself up
  • Do household chores
  • Participate in any activity in your school
  • Prepare your child for transitions to work
  • Sensory issues that your child may have
  • Impulse control

In high schools, OT sessions can determine the complete assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of a student.

When is Occupational Therapy Most Effective?

The results will be most effective if therapy sessions are a collaboration of parents, teachers, and occupational therapists.

It is also vital for the high school student to be involved in the therapy session. It is important for the teenager to provide input as this will increase their motivation in their therapy sessions and working towards their goals.

Who Does Occupational Therapy Help?

Many students would benefit from having occupational therapy support. However, if you have a child with a physical or developmental condition, such as ASD, ADHD or developmental delays, then occupational therapy is especially useful in helping them to navigate life.

Generally, OT is customized to help every single child, considering their environment, strengths, and weaknesses.

Role of An Occupational Therapist

Surmounting Physical and Mental Limitations

For children, occupational therapy is more than just developing gross and fine motor skills. It involves enhancing the child’s role to overcome any physical and mental limitations.

Obviously, this is dependent on your child’s areas of difficulty.

Helping in Developmental Delays

An occupational therapist can also be a great help for students with developmental delays. Occupational therapy experts with their provided OT services can help your child in coping with any learning disorder.

Assisting with Other Difficulties

Occupational Therapy practitioners can provide training with children who face speech delay, language disorder, visual-hearing difficulty or impairment as well as behavioral and emotional issues.

Improving Overall Conduct

Occupational therapy experts play a pivotal role in allowing children to participate and enjoy an active life in all aspects.

Indeed, providing extensive support for occupational therapy activities helps children to improve their concentration, attention, patience, fine motor skills, handwriting, behavior in school settings, and classroom conduct.

Becoming More Organized

With OT services, an individual can be more organized. They learn to be more confident and are able to maintain their daily routine without a hassle.

Occupational Therapy Activities

High school students and teacher.

There are several occupational therapy activities. Some of them are as follows:

Organization

Occupational therapy experts can help a student in performing organizational activities which can enable them to be more organized in a school setting and at home.

Such activities can be carried out as routine tasks till your child meets the expectation level of effective organizational skills to perform tasks independently.

Children who are messy eaters or deal with a messy desk may need to practice some of the organizational activities. Also, a student who often loses things can benefit from these activities to improve their organization skills. The flexibility of customization makes the whole process trustworthy and great for a high school student.

Organizational activities, as recommended by occupational therapy experts, on a regular basis can help an individual to fare better in life. 

One becomes more efficient at keeping things in order. It also benefits them to follow an orderly approach for learning, performing, and completing a task. It also helps the person to follow the instructions given in the classroom and be more focused overall.

Emotional Regulation

Emotional regulation is a vast area of occupational therapy. Regulation of emotions is an important skill that manages stress or anxiety and balances mental health.

However, often it becomes hard for students to regulate their emotions and concentrate on their academic tasks. In this scenario, an occupational therapist is there to help children acquire the techniques to regulate their emotions in order to reduce stress.

Paying less attention to emotional regulation can lead to poor mental health. It can also cause behavioral issues, meltdowns, aggression, anxiety, and other mental issues. In the future, it may even cause addiction, relationships, and social issues.

It is necessary to acknowledge that regulation of emotions and executive functioning skills are interconnected. Building social-emotional skills help children to develop a sense of awareness and maintain mental health.

The awareness of self-monitoring skills is a major part of life skills. In addition, students with regulated emotion and behavior have their impulses in control and can indulge themselves in taking action.

Thus, it is advisable to look at the regulation of emotions from a younger age.

Focus and Concentration

Concentration is the ability to remain focused on a task right from the beginning till completion. Indeed, concentration skills enable us to “tune out” information that is not important or relevant to the task at hand. 

Having the capability to engage in a task attentively and complete the activity is important for every skill development including fine motor skills. In fact, concentration is one of the most important pieces in the puzzle of executive function.

Now, some children may require more help than others to attain the main executive functioning skills. For instance, they may experience difficulties in getting started on tasks, sustaining their attention on a task, following multi-step instructions, organizing materials, and regulating their time.

Children with executive functioning problems may under or overreact to situations, have difficulty in making and keeping friends, and have a low level of self-esteem.

An occupational therapist works with children to help in identifying how these challenges are affecting their daily occupations.

These occupations cover performing self-care, social interaction, being a good student, and being good at leisure and play activities. Such a therapy session enables them to be more confident and focused on interacting and playing games with other students.

How An Occupational Therapist is Equipped to Deal

School teacher, psychologist, social worker talking to teenagers, sitting on grass

Occupational therapy experts are equipped with tools to help children with self-regulation and executive function issues. An occupational therapist may use particular strategies and programs when working directly with a child or suggest changes to the child’s school and home environments and routines.

Recommendations of Occupational Therapists

Occupational Therapy practitioners can introduce several useful interventions to help students in developing their cognitive skills like visual perceptual skills, sensory processing skills, fine and gross motor skills, balancing skills, concentration and attention skills, and working memory skills.

Gross and Fine Motor Skills & Other Cognitive Skills

Developing these skills enables students to perform and achieve academic growth. It also allows them to sustain themselves in every aspect of their lives.

Importance of OT for High School Students

Generally, high school students have a lot of emotional difficulties and need extensive help to manage and control their emotions. As they are in their adolescence, emotional regulation plays a key role in regards to going about their everyday life.

In addition, they are expected to start developing independent executive functioning skills to plan, prioritize, organize and also for time management.

All these skills are fundamental for high school students to learn, however, these may not be skills taught explicity in private and public schools.

Especially if your child has learning difficulties, sensory processing disorders, or fine motor difficulties, occupational therapy interventions can assist your child, especially before they move into adulthood.

Summary

The role of occupational therapy experts can be extremely beneficial in a high school setting, especially for children with autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and developmental disorders.

There are many students within this age group that may need help developing coping strategies, social skills, executive functioning skills, and assistance with transition planning.

Occupational therapists can help students in building skills needed to achieve their occupational performance and achieve distinctive growth overall. Overall, students can become more patient, attentive, and have increased communication during everyday activities.

Therefore, it is a great idea for high school students to seek occupational therapy services to promote enhanced development in all areas.

References

About Occupational Therapy. (2021). Retrieved 30 December 2021, from https://www.aota.org/About-Occupational-Therapy/Professionals/CY/school-settings.aspx

CanChild. (2021). Retrieved 30 December 2021, from https://www.canchild.ca/en/resources/209-occupational-therapy-role-in-the-school-partnering-for-change-model

Executive Functioning Skills – The OT Toolbox. (2021). Retrieved 30 December 2021, from https://www.theottoolbox.com/executive-functioning-skills/

How Occupational Therapy Can Help Special Needs Children Learn. (2021). Retrieved 30 December 2021, from https://www.verywellfamily.com/what-is-occupational-therapy-3106603

How Occupational Therapy Can Support Your Child at School. (2021). Retrieved 30 December 2021, from https://www.fabic.com.au/blog/how-occupational-therapy-can-support-your-child-school

Ross, S. (2021). How can occupational therapy help your child improve his/her attention? — Sierra Therapy Group. Retrieved 30 December 2021, from http://www.sierratherapygroup.com/blog/2016/11/17/how-can-occupational-therapy-help-your-child-improve-hisher-attention

School-Based Occupational Therapy Activities & Interventions. (2021). Retrieved 30 December 2021, from https://positivepsychology.com/school-based-occupational-therapy-activities/

What’s Occupational Therapy? Make Work or Play Easier to Do. (2021). Retrieved 30 December 2021, from https://www.webmd.com/pain-management/occupational-rehab

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