“Transition must be a continuum that begins early… A foundation cannot be built when students are already adults. Rather, a foundation starts early- we do not have time to wait.” -Debbie Schwind, OT at Cedar Lane Elementary, VA.
I always love to see Occupational Therapists highlighted in the news. Imagine my surprise when the topic was about transition and the positive impact that an Occupational Therapist from Virginia is making. The interesting twist to this article is that the Occupational Therapist is working on transition at an elementary school level.
The “real life activities” that Occupational Therapists are known for can change the lives of individuals working to overcome their own personal challenges and further develop their strengths. It was so exciting to see this example of OT’s role with transition, even at such a young age. I have written an article about ‘Why an OT’ (should be a part of transition services) because so often individuals are unfamiliar with all that we are trained to do. Click here for the article.
The students of Cedar Lane Elementary have been working under the guidance of Debbie Schwind, OT, learning valuable skills through real-life work experiences at school. Studies have researched the importance of early vocational skill training for young people with disabilities, and statistics show us that those students with early training have increased success with future work positions.* As an Occupational Therapist, Debbie Schwind wanted to improve the existing community-based instruction program that was in place in her district, so she developed an innovative approach for her students. The positive impact to the climate of Cedar Lane Elementary is immeasurable. Not only does the program work on essential life skills such as money management, organization, pre-vocational training through the use of a school garden, teacher coffee cart, and holiday store; it also works on the underlying social experiences that help these individuals feel a natural part of the community through the process of communicating with peers and teachers. Establishing this program sets the stage for these young children to develop into confident, productive individuals as they transition into young adults.
To look further at how these students are progressing at Cedar Lane Elementary, please click here for the full video.
At Transition Steps to Success, we focus on expanding those individual strengths so that our clients can overcome their personal obstacles and achieve a meaningful and purposeful life. If you know someone who would benefit from our services, please contact me by completing the CONNECT WITH US form on this page.
American Occupational Therapy Association (2013). Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): What is the role of occupational therapy in supporting employment of young adults with disabilities? http://www.aota.org/~/media/Corporate/Files/Secure/FAQ-Employment-Young-Adults.PDF
Cimera, R.E., Burgess, S., & Wiley, A. (2013). Does providing transition services early enable students with ASD to achieve better vocational outcomes as adults? Research & Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 38 (2), 88-93.