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MedEd Connections Resource Guide: Blind and Visually Impaired (B/VI)

Occupational Therapist (OT)


An occupational therapist (OT) may be found in either hospital or school settings. An OT assists children with the development of their fine-motor and sensory skills inside or outside of the classroom. Fine-motor skills refer to the movements of muscles used in a person’s fingers, hands, wrists, and arms. Some children may need assistance in increasing the strength and movement of those muscles to complete tasks. OTs may assist students with gripping writing or eating utensils, feeling braille; handwriting and typing, cooking, dressing, and hygiene. Handwriting is important because people who are B/VI should have the skill to independently put their signature on important documents.

Sensory development may include improvement of auditory perception or regulation of sensory stimulation. Sensory stimulation can impact any of the five senses (vision, hearing, smell, taste, touch), as well as other sensory issues. Sensory regulation may include developing strategies for children who are hyper-sensitive to sensory input or for those who need improvement of their sensory awareness.

OT may also assist students with strategies to soothe fidgeting behavior. These behaviors may occur due to the urge to soothe the lack of visual input. Some common examples include rocking, poking the eyes, swinging the arms, pulling at the hair, scratching, and general fidgeting. Special tactile toys can help provide sensory input as replacements for these behaviors. These fidget tools may be attached to the underside of a desk or arm of a chair. In general, OTs make adaptive tools for students to access tasks more easily.

These professionals collaborate with families, doctors, and the school team. It may be beneficial to share information between hospital OTs and school OTs if your child is receiving services in both locations. If you want OTs to share information, you will also need to fill out a release of that information, similar to what you would do with a doctor or medical professional. Your permission is required for the medical and educational professionals to share information about your child.

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