Useful equipment for school
Items recommended for schools to have in their OT kit and useful information on where you can purchase each item.
Posture and seating
Essential to using our hands well is good posture and positioning, particularly for activities that require a high level of coordination and concentration, such as writing. A child who has poor posture when sitting at a desk will experience increased effort to carry out any activities that require a high level of dexterity and manipulation. It is for this reason that an appropriate posture should be encouraged from a very early stage, especially for a child that has difficulties with tabletop activities. Assessment of furniture in the classroom is recommended, especially for children with special needs. If the furniture is too large or too small for the child, this may have implications on his schoolwork and concentration levels.
Children start making marks on a paper at around 12 months of age. Then, they progressively develop further control and better grasp of the pencil, resulting in increased quality of drawing and written work.
Using scissors is a complex activity requiring the integration of postural, fine motor, perceptual and organisational skills. It also requires effective motor planning and bimanual skills.
Organisation requires the child to:
- Have an idea.
- Think ahead as to what tools, equipment and materials are required for the task and gather them together.
- Anticipate what may be the difficult aspects of an activity and consider how he/she will tackle them.
- Consider the steps of the task.
- Plan time involved in completing each step.
- Keep work space organised and tidy as they go along.
Attention and concentration
Children who have attention difficulties immediately compromise their ability to learn, as they are not focused on the information presented.
There are many possible reasons for children to have difficulty paying attention and/or concentrating during class. They may have a specific attention disorder (e.g. Attention Deficit Disorder, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder), sensory modulation difficulties, visual perceptual difficulties, etc. Other children may not understand the information presented because of a learning/intellectual difficulty as the information may not have meaning for them. They may also have a language difficulty and cannot understand complex verbal information or they may have a memory difficulty and cannot store and hold onto information. Additionally, a child may have a combination of any of these problems.
Accessing the school environment
Children who have problems accessing the school environment can include those with a physical difficulty, who may or may not use mobility equipment, children who experience fatigue or pain, who are unsteady on their feet or have a visual impairment.
Assistive technology and augmentative communication
In both special and mainstream school settings, recent and fast technological advances have made it possible for children with special needs to participate in class room and school activities.