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Turning Your Professional Battleship

School year 22-23 is right around the corner.... I am sure many of you are thinking about students new and old to your caseload. And your mantra?? "Access" and "participation".... that is what we do - and that is always is mine too. But do we really understand what those terms mean?

While doing research to update my presentation at Innovations in School-based Physical Therapy APTA this year, I delved into literature from our special education colleagues. Much of what I am finding in the education literature is the embracing of the ICF (that is great news!) Ellingsen, et al (2017) states the ICF can document how children participate in activities in school and how it can be used to identify and record environmental barriers and facilitators that influence the level and quality of student learning and engagement. Sanches-Ferreira, et al (2015) goes on to say ICF use promoted a functional approach to assessment and the assessment creation functional profiles for students. Additionally, the ICF helped to address the most suitable educational interventions within the Individualized Education Plans. Awesome, right? As physical therapists, we know the scope of practice for school-based physical therapy is aligned with the ICF and its special scope on participation(restrictions) activity (limitations) and contextual factors, the environment and personal. understand content and context.


So, let's get back to access and participation where this blog started...access means engaging in the general ed. content-both functional and academic that is age appropriate and an expectation for students. Context is where the content takes place. (Ruppar, 2016) So, access is content relative to context - and participation is students being involved in school related activities and routines(content) that are context specific and personally meaningful,

Many therapists know I have advocated for ecological assessment as a first step for assessment long time. I have forms on this website to support the work. This approach engages the whole team, including parents. If educators are recognizing the value of the ICF, how it positively impacts students and their IEPs, and understand what content and context are, now might be the time to assess in a way that uses participation within content and context as the starting point. You have the opportunity to engage your team with the research and language that they can understand. Ecological assessment also can lead to participation-based goals (see the Academy of PEDs PT website for a great fact sheet) and the best way to determine and deliver supplementary aids and services (Kurth, 2018-also from special ed literature :-).) Individualized, educationally relevant and supportive of inclusion with peers! A winner for our students!


So, maybe this is the year that you turn your professional battleship - changing the way you assess and share your data with your team. Using terminology your team will understand-you are assessing content within context when you do your ecological assessment. Getting the team engaged in the assessment process. Collectively identifying supplementary aids and services that will support your student inclusively (think LRE!). Writing participation-based goals as a team. Your ecological assessment can be the foundation for all of this. And good luck!! Have a great year!

PS. Don't forget to check out the forms to support this work in the Sequoia store

PSS. Sequoia is always available for individual as well as staff and district support.

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