This post is about getting ready! It’s May and in the elementary schools, the 5th graders are preparing themselves for 5th grade events like last picnics at their school, milestone trips to a picnic park, field trips, presentations, visits from middle schoolers to talk about the middle school, and graduation ceremonies. It’s a lot to take in! And when you are a student with needs, it’s sometimes even more to take in. And then there are things to think about that are coming such as larger schools, bigger students, different bus routes, switching classes, meeting new students and ……………wait for it ……………………………… the LOCKERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
An occupational therapist can come in handy at this time of year. And our role can help lessen some anxieties. One way we help is getting involved in transitions. A fifth grade student self-advocated to visit her new middle school now to see the school and learn its surroundings. The physical therapist at one of our district’s middle schools set up a tour to see if we could all attend and observe the physical setting and make recommendations as needed based upon a fifth grade student. The physical therapist from our school, myself the OT, the parent, the student, and the PT, OT and special educator from the middle school each attended.
This help put the student at ease to see her future hallways, desks, cafeteria, gym, bathroom, elevator and classrooms. She was able to get in and out of desks, try the bathroom, make her way around the halls, meet other friendly faces, and talk about how to get around such as going in the cafeteria and using trays, or carrying her backpack between classes. She even did a few laps in the gym excited about the bigger space! She got to hear the transition bell, which was a concern of hers, and turned out to be no big deal. It was a worthwhile day!
Back at the homestead at the elementary school, we continue to practice things such as voice output typing for word processing to keep up with the writing in middle school, and also LOCKER skills. We practice use of the lock itself, and using the locker in the OT room (seen below) to practice those larger skills of getting in and out of the locker, managing books and backpack/jackets/lunchbox, etc. This helps the student to build the skills so they feel prepared going in when school starts in September. To master the lock before you leave here is a big achievement that quells many anxieties. Just check out the smiling face below!
When you’ve known these students since kindergarten and some since preschool, it’s amazing to see the growth and achievements they have made. And it is exciting to find out what they do next…………….onward and upward little Exton Eagles! Spread your wings!
Mary L. Adolf, M.S., OTR/L