Collaborating in the Classroom: The Classroom Consultation Model for Occupational Therapy
Date Posted: Monday, June 19, 2017

 The 2016-17 school year marked the official expansion of the new Classroom Consultation Model (CCM) to a tiered intervention approach implemented by the John McGivney Children’s Centre (JMCC) in partnership with the Erie St. Clair Community Care Access Centre and Windsor and Essex County’s school boards, following a pilot period which began in 2012. As the initial tier of this three-tiered intervention therapy program, CCM involves frequent, recurring classroom visits by Occupational Therapists (OTs) to assist both teachers and students. OTs focus on the development of sensory, motor, self-regulation and self-care skills by hosting activity centres focused on specific skills, like early pre-printing skills and cutting with scissors. The OTs may also leading entire class lessons, screen students’ overall classroom performance with a trained eye, and working one-on-one with teachers to build their capacity to address related needs in the classroom on a daily basis.

“We’re trying to teach the proper motor patterns very early on,” explains Cindy Gagnier, Clinical Director, Occupational Therapy, JMCC. She identifies that the goal of CCM is to “support the entire class as a whole and to create a learning environment that is best for any type of learner and is as accessible as possible for all learners.”

As of September 2016, JMCC OTs are delivering a tiered intervention model in 40 per cent of schools within the area’s four publicly funded boards with classroom visits taking place biweekly on average in each school with a primary focus on junior kindergarten to grade two one classrooms. This has allowed for specific assistance to reach a child as quickly as two weeks which significantly minimizes the typical wait time of three to four-months for traditional school based OT service.

“If the OT notices a child that’s struggling, we can trial a few strategies at the CCM level and if we find we need to target something more specific to that child then a referral comes through and we progress to the next level of therapy,” says Gagnier.

This next level includes targeted intervention strategies and further in-class monitoring both one-on-one and in small groups of students with similar struggles.  The third level reflects traditional OT services which may include withdrawal from the classroom for more intensive and individualized assistance. Feedback surveys and questionnaires are collected from teachers and JMCC clinicians to ensure continued success.

JMCC OTs collaboration with teachers and parents has provided a framework for addressing all areas of need among children in our region, especially areas that have traditionally been overlooked. Gagnier highlights that a major focus in CCM has shifted to addressing kids’ attention and self-regulation issues in order to improve their independence and productivity.

“Before, these were seen as behavioural concerns and these kids didn’t really qualify for OT, but now we’re able to approach it from more of a sensory perspective,” said Gagnier.

JMCC is excited for a huge leap forward in the upcoming school year, as the tiered intervention program will expand and be delivered in all community schools in Windsor-Essex in 2017-2018! Together, we are working to help children achieve their full potential and enhance the lives of families in Windsor and Essex County.

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