Extreme Makeover Home Classroom Edition: The Occupational Therapist’s DIY Guide to Optimizing Children’s Engagement in Distance Learning…On a Budget! (Session 4B)
Main Topic: Education, Teaching and Classroom Practices
Session Type: Skill Share
The COVID-19 pandemic has turned our world “upside down.” School is now happening at home for many children, and other familiar places that were once safe, like parks, movie theaters, and libraries are temporarily off-limits. Educators quickly sprung to action and have adapted to the current times – modifying curriculum and learning and implementing new teaching methods through a screen – after many of their tools were taken from their toolbox. Caregivers have taken on the new roles of educator, therapist, and after school program manager, in addition to their pre-pandemic roles (employee, spouse, caregiver, etc.). Children are resilient and have taken many of these disruptions in stride to the best of their abilities. However, despite the Herculean efforts and sacrifices made by caregivers and educators alike, some students are falling through the virtual cracks; most notably, children with IEPs and children from vulnerable and marginalized populations. As occupational therapists working in community mental health settings, we’re seeing these very same children through a different lens. Weekly therapy sessions have been spent discussing caregiver stress and children’s difficulty staying seated, looking at their teacher on the screen, following directions, and turning in assignments on the virtual classroom platform. With the shift to school looking very different and happening in a familiar, yet unfamiliar environment, children are having new challenges with self-regulation, attention, and overall academic engagement. The patience and creativity of caregivers are being put to the test each and every day, and co-regulation is often compromised as a result. Our training as occupational therapists introduces a unique perspective in considering barriers to access and engagement in online learning. We consider the many environmental factors at play (cultural, physical, social, temporal, virtual, sensory) when analyzing a child’s ability to access their online curriculum. Taking these factors into consideration, we are then able to individually tailor specific strategies that may target some of these barriers specific to the home environment. Our own creativity as clinicians has broken new ground, and new foundations have been lain. In this Skill Share, we will review low-cost, tangible strategies that might be added to an educator, caregiver, learner, or other service providers’ toolkit. These novel tools would include basic ergonomic alterations, simple sensory strategies, and DIY environmental modifications that may bolster a learner’s ability to attend and participate in online learning from home. To ensure that our recommendations are meeting the needs of vulnerable and marginalized populations, we will offer ideas for how to repurpose materials families likely already have at home. It’s less about what you have, and more about how you use it! It is our hope that the attendees of this Skill Share will feel empowered to reimagine what learning from home can look like so the world can feel “right side up” again.
- Articulate six different environmental factors that can influence a learner’s ability to engage in online learning.
- Understand the impact that ergonomic positioning can have on a learner’s attention.
- Recognize how sensory-based strategies can impact a learner’s attention and regulation for online academic participation.
- Conceptualize steps that can be taken to create an environment at home that is most conducive to online learning.
- Identify when a learner might benefit from more individualized consultation from a school-based occupational therapist to support their ability to access their academic curriculum.
Dr. Caroline Hardin University of Southern California, Children's Hospital Los Angeles - Assistant Professor of Clinical Occupational TherapyDr. Caroline HardinUniversity of Southern California, Children's Hospital Los Angeles - Assistant Professor of Clinical Occupational Therapy
University of Southern California, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles
Caroline Hardin, OTD, OTR/L is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Occupational Therapy at the USC University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA). Dr. Hardin graduated magna cum laude from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina with Bachelor of Arts Degrees in Psychology and Spanish. She then made the cross-country move to California to complete her Master of Arts and Doctorate of Occupational Therapy degrees at the University of Southern California. She completed her doctoral residency at the USC UCEDD at CHLA where she specialized in occupational therapy within pediatric mental health. She was a Fellow in the California Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities program while completing her OTD Residency at the UCEDD, with a project on using sensory integration with other mental health interventions for children. Dr. Hardin completed the USC Chan Sensory Integration Continuing Education Certificate Program and has additional training in group social skills interventions. Dr. Hardin’s area of passion and expertise is in interprofessional pediatric mental health care. Dr. Hardin conducts OT assessments as part of an interdisciplinary assessment team at the Boone Fetter Clinic, which operates as a diagnostic, clinical, and research center for children with developmental, behavioral, and Autism Spectrum Disorders. At the UCEDD, Dr. Hardin provides OT services for infants, children, and young adults with mental health labels, often with a co-occurring developmental disability. In her work, Dr. Hardin values partnering with clients and families to support well-being and participation in meaningful roles.
Dr. Brett Buford University of Southern California - Assistant Professor of Clinical Occupational Therapy; Violence Intervention Program - Director of Occupational Therapy ServicesDr. Brett BufordUniversity of Southern California - Assistant Professor of Clinical Occupational Therapy; Violence Intervention Program - Director of Occupational Therapy Services
University of Southern California, Violence Intervention Program
Brett Buford, OTD, OTR/L, is currently a USC Assistant Professor of Clinical Occupational Therapy and serves as the Director of Occupational Therapy at the Violence Intervention Program (VIP). Dr. Buford earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Health Sciences from Chapman University, and obtained his Master’s of Arts and Doctoral degrees in Occupational Therapy both from the University of Southern California. Dr. Buford has extensive experience working with children with mental health diagnoses and neurodevelopmental disabilities, and completed his doctoral residency at the USC University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA). He was the first ever resident at the UCEDD to establish ongoing occupational therapy services for clients with CHLA’s Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine. Dr. Buford has obtained the USC Chan Sensory Integration Continuing Education Certificate through advanced training, and is a graduate of the California Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities Training Program (CA-LEND). At VIP, Dr. Buford coordinates occupational therapy services for infants, children, and adolescents with mental health diagnoses who often have co-occurring developmental disabilities. He is committed to always providing family-centered and culturally competent care, while working within a variety of interdisciplinary teams.