What do Occupational Therapy Assistants do in school settings…

With how much our world is changing due to COVID-19 and how our routines and patterns have been disturbed, it is more imperative than ever to offer children structure, routine and most importantly, love.

I am a school-based Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant  (COTA) and have a passion for supporting special needs children succeed and thrive in school. My role as a COTA changes daily; some days I may act as a therapist, others a teacher, a counsellor, a caretaker, an advocator, and so much more. One reason why I am so passionate about Occupational Therapy within the school setting is that I can be so many things to so many different children, depending on their needs – the job is very versatile. Whether it’s teaching a child to write their name, engage with play occupations or simply being the one person who gives them the attention they need that day, when I look into a child’s eyes and see pure joy and love it makes all the hard days completely worth it. 

However, at times working as a COTA in the school system is challenging, there are so many different team members that communication can sometimes be a challenge. Whilst the interdisciplinary work that occurs in the school setting can be the most beneficial part of it, it can also be the hardest. Team members have to be diligent about informing the entire team of new information as well as worth together to find the best solution for our client population. This communication can be challenging and working together can most definitely be the hardest part of being a COTA in the school setting. Team members that are involved in a child’s team can include teachers, paraprofessionals, cafeteria staff, OT, speech, orientation and mobility, visual impairment teachers, principals, classmates, counselors, and so many more. The challenges are tough, but the rewards are so worth it. I love being a COTA in the school system and would not change it for the world. I would do it every day all day just to see a kiddo smile and feel loved. 

This blog is part of our ‘What do Occupational Therapists do…’ series to celebrate OT month.

Author: Mallory Beard

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