by Jean Polichino, OTR, MS,
Have you wished there was some way you could help your special education
administration understand the challenges you face every day as a school
therapist? Well you will be glad to know that help is finally here!
Late this summer, the national professional associations supporting OTs, PTs
and SLPs issued a joint publication that urges transitioning from caseload to
workload approaches for these three related services. In 2002, the American
Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) developed a position paper that
provided rationale for such a transition as well as methodology for identifying
all the activities school practitioners engage in. The American Occupational
Therapy Association (AOTA) followed suit, publishing Practice Tips for OTs and
OTAs on transforming from caseload to workload in 2006 (an update is in press as
I write this). In the new joint publication, the American Physical Therapy
Association (APTA) has joined their school therapy colleagues in urging the
transition to a workload paradigm.
Originating in traditional clinical settings, a caseload perspective
reflects the number of students assigned to a practitioner – in some cases with
no consideration for the intensity or duration of services, time at ARD meetings
or time completing documentation. A workload perspective includes all the many
things we do in the interest of students, including those in general education.
It considers time for data collection and analysis, early intervening
(pre-referral) activities, maintaining equipment inventories, participating on
school problem-solving teams, teacher trainings, and collaboration. The document
published by AOTA, APTA and AHSA highlights benefits to schools for embracing a
workload approach – greater efficiency in staffing, retention of scarce
personnel and improved student outcomes.
Check out the joint statement, entitled, Workload Approach: A Paradigm Shift
for Positive Impact on Student Outcomes. Share it with your supervisor and
colleagues! You will find it at this link:
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Transitioning from caseload to