Virtual Occupational Therapy – Tips for Successful Online OT Sessions

girl student doing virtual OT
Cross Country Education
August 27, 2020 11:37 AM (GMT-04:00)
Since nationwide, there is uncertainty about whether schools will be in person or online, as a school OT, it’s wise to prepare in advance so you can bring your kids the best in virtual occupational therapy.
Here are valuable tips from fellow occupational therapists for structuring and implementing virtual occupational therapy sessions so your students can continue to receive the services they need and deserve.

During your first virtual occupational therapy session:

  • Go through a materials checklist with the student and parent or guardian to document what materials are available at home (colored pencils, scissors, construction paper, play dough, games, etc.). Have your students and parents create an OT toolkit with the materials you discussed so they will be prepared for each session.
  • Go over general expectations for your virtual occupational therapy sessions with the parent or guardian and student. Discuss whether or not you will need the parent to stay to support the student during the session, what types of activities you will be working on, and the length of the sessions.  
  • Explain the components of the virtual platform you will be using during the first session. For example, if using Zoom, explain and practice using the chatbox, whiteboard, screen sharing, and annotating components. 
  • Practice a variety of screen positions with your student. For example, try setting up a gross motor task so you can see their full body, then a fine-motor task so you can see their hands, and a task that requires you to see their writing. 

For all of your virtual occupational therapy sessions:

  • Schedule a 5-10 minute buffer between students to allow time for students to log into sessions.
  • Have more activities planned than you think you will need.
  • Have the contact information for the student and parent or guardian available in case you need to contact them during the login process.
  • Have students write in a dark color because it is much easier to see on camera. The same goes for the therapist when demonstrating in writing. 
  • Make a visual list of activities for the session, and if appropriate, let the student put them in preferred order for completion to give them some control during the session. Having a consistent routine and structure for your virtual occupational therapy sessions will help minimize behaviors and make treatment sessions more productive.
  • Figure out what a student might want to work toward during your virtual occupational therapy session, such as listening to a favorite song, watching a short video, or choosing another activity at the end of the session. 
  • Reach out to the rest of the IEP team for support as needed.
  • Use these virtual occupational therapy assessment tools to enhance your sessions.  
  • Most importantly, be patient, focus on small goals, and be creative!
We hope these strategies are helpful so you and your kids can have successful virtual occupational therapy sessions together in the new school year! 
Discover current occupational therapy jobs with Cross Country Education. 

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