CONNECT Module 2: Transition and Therapy Services

by Christine Myers
 

Occupational Therapist and Associate Professor, Christine Myers discusses the importance of including therapists in transition planning.

My background as an occupational therapist has been primarily focused on providing services for young children and families. Yet, until I joined the National Early Childhood Transition Center 7 years ago, I hadn’t thought much about how I supported families who were participating in the various transitions of early childhood.  As I learned more about transition, I began to recognize the valuable, yet undefined, role of therapy providers in the transition process.  

Although occupational therapists (OTs), physical therapists and speech-language pathologists have distinctive scopes of practice, we share a common background in health and child development that enables us to make a valuable contribution both before, during, and after transition.  Prior to transition, we may be involved in coaching parents and/or other team members in the use of strategies that help children learn skills they will need for success in the next environment.  During transition we may collaborate with the team to provide assistive technology or environmental adaptations that support participation.  After transition we may provide ongoing consultation to families, teachers, and others in order to maximize learning, peer engagement, and continued growth among all developmental domains.

Given the inconsistencies in state and local systems, it is not surprising that the involvement of therapy providers in transitions varies widely.  This point was brought home to me at a recent presentation.  An OT from one state verbalized her frustration at not being invited to transition-related meetings and feeling left out of the transition process altogether, while another was excited to report that she had an ongoing relationship with the staff in receiving programs and participates extensively in the transition process.   The CONNECT Module on Transition educates students and early childhood personnel about key transition practices and addresses the importance of therapy provider involvement in transition.

About the Author: Christine Teeters Myers, PhD, OTR/L is an Associate Professor in the Eastern Kentucky University (EKU), Department of Occupational Therapy.

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COMMUNITY QUESTIONS

  • When using the module to train students and personnel about transition, how are you or might you include the roles of therapy providers in the transition process?
  • As a professional, how have you been involved in the transition process?

 

Comments

Reflective Supervision/Practice

The CONNECT modules will be so helpful for me in my work training students, personnel, and parents about transition. I will include the the principles of reflective supervision as outlined in the November issue of Zero to Three to include the role of therapy providers in the transition process.

Reflective Supervision/Practice

Hi Sandra, We're glad that you'll be able to use the modules across so many contexts. Would appreciate your feedback once you start using the modules. Thanks, Chih Ing, Project Coordinator, CONNECT

connections between therapist and other staff

Christine, thanks so much for speaking out on this issue. Transition must have good communication between and among all partners, including the therapist. It should not only be about transition, but all through the service deliver process. Keeping everyone informed and on the same page will support success for the child as he/she is not given mixed messages in skill practice opportunities integrated througout the day and across all environments (home, child care, Head Start, etc. I especially want to point out the importantance which Christine has pointed out - we have a before, during and after for every child who experiences transition. Often times, follow up is totally neglected. We appreciate you so much, Brenda

Therapists as part of transition team

I can understand therapists being upset about not being invited to transition-related meetings. I was thankful to have my son's therapists involved. But to be honest - I didn't reach out and invite them. So many things were happening at once, it just didn't occur to me. But luckily my son's therapist stepped up and asked about the upcoming meetings and asked if she could come. I'd recommend other therapists do the same. Don't interpret the lack of an invitation as disinterest. You should already be aware of upcoming transitions, so be proactive and volunteer your services early in the process.

Therapists as part of transition team

Thanks Christine! You are absolutely right that it is just as much our responsibility to step up and become involved than it is others' responsibility to involve us. Unfortunately, some therapists don't perceive that they have a role in the process and so they do not take action for that reason. I'm so glad to hear your son's therapist did.

Therapists as part of transition team

When I have a new teacher on my OT caseload, I start my conversations with them: I'm here to support your students functioning in your classroom - how can I help you do that. They usually ask for examples and transition is always something I bring up with examples from my work with other teachers. I have found my teachers to be thrilled to have a partner in this endeavor.

therapist-teacher collaboration

Christine, Do you have suggestions for how we can help early childhood teachers in the receiving programs understand that they have a role in the transition process? So many teachers don't realize that they could get the kind of support from therapists you describe. Would love to get some help from you and others about ways to build those partnerships. Thanks

therapist-teacher collaboration

Great question Pam. I believe it really needs to be an effort to support collaboration in general at all levels. During preservice training, students from all disciplines should have the opportunity to learn about the roles of others in early childhood in general, work with students from other disciplines in the classrooom and in practicums, and be encouraged to apply their knowledge to the transition process. In professional practice, employers/agencies from both sending and receiving programs should support collaboration between therapists from sending programs and teachers from receiving programs by paying for therapists to attend meetings, encouraging dialogue between therapists and teachers in formal and informal ways, and providing interdisciplinary/interagency professional development opportunities focused on training providers to work together during transition.

therapist-teacher collaboration

Great ideas! I agree it is essential to help all partners communicate with one another and understand one another’s role. Two professional development resources I developed for an online module on Transition sponsored by the Maryland Department of Early Childhood and Early Intervention: 1. A self-assessment focused on partner roles in transitioning a child and family from EI to community early childhood settings. The partners include families, EI, special education and community based early childhood programs. I think it could be used in preservice or continuing education. The checklist is available at http://olms.cte.jhu.edu/olms/data/resource/219/self-assess-mod3-ses2.rtf 2. a discussion activity for promoting collaboration between ECSE and community preschool providers. I’ve found that this activity works with all disciplines, not just ECSE and ECE, so it can help therapists consider how they share their expertise also. It’s available at: http://olms.cte.jhu.edu/olms/output/page_site.php?pageID=1063&siteID=365

therapist-teacher collaboration

Thanks for the links Barbara! These are excellent resources. I enjoyed looking around at the online module too, especially your use of short cases to illustrate important points about cultural diversity and other issues we don't always take into consideration during transition.

Related services and transition

I could not agree more. There are so many ways that OTs, PTs & SLPs can and do make this process much smoother. With parental permission, just conversation between therapists from EI and schools can avoid huge mistakes and misunderstandings. Also therapists can minimize the effect transition can have on progress. I have found, as a school PT, the way transition is explained to families can make or break our new relationships with these families. It is a challenge to proactively participate with transition given tight schedules on all sides, but what a pay off!

So true Laurie! Thanks for

So true Laurie! Thanks for your comment.