School Occupational, Physical and Speech Therapists play a significant role in improving student behavior. While traditionally viewed exclusively as the role of school social workers, psychologists, and behaviorists the complex problems of students with interrelated behavioral and developmental challenges can be helped by the contribution of school therapists. The relationship between behavioral problems, the occupation of students, communication/language abilities, and gross motor skills supports the role of school occupational, speech/language and physical therapists as members of school teams helping students with behavioral and developmental challenges.
By teaming with occupational, speech/language and physical therapists, teachers and school mental health specialists can enhance their school positive behavioral support programs with expanded use of visual supports, mindfulness, music, exercise, and sensory-motor activities (Patten et al., 2013; Schaaf et al., 2014). There is emerging evidence that cardiovascular and resistance exercise enhances body awareness, attention, as well as functional strength and endurance for improved participation in school learning tasks http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3208137/pdf/nihms297861.pdf
School therapists can utilize evidence based mindfulness strategies as movement breaks that improve attention, and integrate behavioral strategies into their school therapy to enhance student’s school behavior. Behavior for Therapists Slides The picture below describes the FAB Strategies adaptation of the PATHS PBS Turtle Technique to help students with special needs learn to calm down and avoid aggression.
The AOTA supports the role of school occupational therapy in helping to improve student’s behavior (Cahill & Pagano, 2015). The following Occupational Therapy article describes clinical school occupational therapy strategies that can be used to reduce student aggression (Click on highlighted, then double click on lower heading) SchoolOTRedAgg
Cahill, S. M. & Pagano, J. L. (2015). Reducing restraint and seclusion: The benefit and role of occupational therapy. AOTA School Mental Health Toolkit. http://www.aota.org/-/media/Corporate/Files/Practice/Children/SchoolMHToolkit/Reducing-Restraint-and-Seclusion.pdf
Flook, L., Smalley, S., Kitil, M., Galla, B., Kaiser-Greenland, S., Locke, J., Ishijima, E., Kasari, C. (2010). Effects of mindful awareness practices on executive functions in elementary school children. Journal of Applied School Psychology, 26(1), 70-95. http://skolenforoverskud.dk/Artikler%20-%20mindfulness/Flook-Effects-of-Mindful-Awareness-Practices-on-Executive-Function-1.pdf
Kazdin, A. E. (2008). The Kazdin Method for parenting the Defiant Child. NY, NY: Mariner Books.
Laugeson, E. A. (2014). The PEERS curriculum for school-based professionals: Social skills training for adolescents with autism spectrum disorder. Routledge.
Mahammadzaheri, F., Koegel, L. K., Rezaee, M., Rafiee, S. M. (2014). A randomized clinical trial comparison between pivotal response treatment (PRT) and structured applied behavioral analysis (ABA) intervention for children with autism. Journal of autism and developmental disorders, 44(11), 2769-2777.
Schaaf, R. C., Benevides, T., Mailloux, Z., Faller, P., Hunt, J., van Hooydonk, E., … & Sendecki, J. (2014). An intervention for sensory difficulties in children with Autism: A randomized trial. Journal of autism and developmental disorders, 44(7), 1493-1506.
Warner, E., Spinazzola, J., Westcott, A., Gunn, C. & Hodon, H. (2014). The body can change the score. Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma, 7(4), 237-246.