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No More Learned Helplessness! Ten Evidence-Informed Strategies to Build Children’s Self-Determination

Presented by: 

Amy Coopersmith, OTD, OTR/L; MA Ed

Amy Coopersmith, OTD, OTR/L; MA Ed

Watch on-demand and earn AOTA-Approved CEUs

Course Description

Do your pediatric clients depend on others to get through their school day? Are they reliant on prizes or adults to be motivated to accomplish tasks? Learned helplessness is a big problem for many children and there is a better way!

This course will offer concrete strategies that can be included in current therapy interventions to help clients grow up into self-determined adults. In addition to getting them engaged and motivated, higher levels of self-determination are correlated with positive school, employment and independent living outcomes.

Learning Objectives

1. Learners will identify whether observable characteristics on a given case study demonstrate learned helplessness or self-determination.

2. Learners will apply 3 self-determination strategies on a given case study to support a child who is struggling with learned helplessness.

3. Learners will compare 3 self-determination strategies to promote participation in education, ADLs, play and leisure, and other meaningful activities.

Contact Hours

This course is 1 hour in length. (0.1 AOTA CEUs)

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National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy

As an AOTA-Approved provider of professional development, courses are accepted by NBCOT® at a rate of 1.25 NBCOT PDUs per each hour of course content.

NBCOT® is a registered trademark of The National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy, Inc.

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Register for this course and future courses inside the OT Schoolhouse Collaborative for as little as $120


0-5 minutes


5-15 minutes

How learned helplessness develops

15-25 minutes

Self-determination defined

25-40 minutes

Long-term consequences of learned helplessness

40-50 minutes

Positive impact of self-directed goal-setting and problem-solving skills in children

50-55 minutes

Self-determination strategies to improve outcomes and satisfaction with life

55-60 minutes

Questions and Answers

Your Instructor

Amy Coopersmith, OTD, OTR/L; MA Ed

Amy Coopersmith, OTD, OTR/L; MA Ed

Amy Coopersmith, OTD, OTR/L; MA Ed, is a self-determination advocate with over 30 years of experience as a pediatric occupational therapist and teacher. As a school-based practitioner in New York City, she worked as a clinician, evaluator and supervisor serving over 100 schools.

Amy noticed that the child-led teaching methods she used during her years as an educator made a big difference in children’s lives. She implemented those ideas as an occupational therapist and found that children made faster progress and demonstrated greater motivation and engagement using these methods.

Author of the Self-Determination Strategies Toolkit and the Captain Me program for young children, Amy strives to teach practitioners and educators how to implement evidence-informed strategies to promote children’s autonomy.

Amy earned her doctorate from Temple University in 2022, where she conducted a research study on children’s self-determination. She continues to present at national conferences, mentor practitioners, and develop new materials to translate research into effective practice.


To access this course and others, become a member of the OT Schoolhouse Collaborative

OTS Collab is an online community dedicated to providing school-based OT practitioners with highly valuable professional development and interactive support to implement learned strategies. In OTS Collab, we learn together, support and encourage one another,  and celebrate our achievements as a collective whole.  

Click here to learn more about the OT Schoolhouse Collaborative and register in our dedicated community of school-based OT practitioners.

Instructional Methods

A combination of speaker presentation with a slide deck and Q+A with the presenter

Target Audience
& Educational Level

This is an Intermediate level course intended for occupational therapy practitioners working in school systems or with a goal to better understand occupational therapy in school systems

Course Completion Requirements

To receive a certificate for this course, you must watch the recorded course in its entirety. Then, you will need to take a learning assessment test and earn a score 75% or higher. If you pass, a certificate will be automatically generated and sent to your email.

Special Needs Requests

This course will include closed captioning and a transcript may be available upon request. You may also rewatch the course or sections of the course as needed. Additional accommodations may be requested by reaching out to us via email. 

Financial & Non-financial Disclosures

Speaker Disclosure

Amy earns an income from courses featuring books and videos discussed in my presentation.

Sponsor Disclosure

The OTS Collaborative Community is a product of the OT Schoolhouse.

Content Disclosure

This learning event does not focus exclusively on any specific product or service.

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Schoolhouse Education, LLC is proud to be an AOTA Approved Provider of Professional Development

AOTA-Approval for this Professional Development Opportunity is in progress.  

Stay Tuned!

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Terms and Conditions


Schoolhouse Education, LLC will keep a record of your completed CE courses. When applicable, transcript services may include reporting to professional associations and/or state licensure boards. While Schoolhouse Education, LLC will make all reasonable efforts to offer CE credit for its courses, it is not responsible for state or national, or regulatory current policies or changes in CE requirements that may make courses ineligible for CE credits.

Participant Agreement

By registering for or attending any event or activity associated with the Schoolhouse Education, LLC and OT Schoolhouse, I agree to the following:

Professional Development/Information Disclaimer

The material presented in this course is not intended to represent the only or the best methods appropriate for the occupational therapy and/or medical condition or professional development issues being discussed but rather is intended to present the opinions of the presenters, which may be helpful to other health care professionals at arriving at their own conclusions and consequent application. Attendees participating in this professional development education program do so with full knowledge that they waive any claim they may have against the A-Z School-Based OT Course, Schoolhouse Education, LLC, and OT School House and its staff or representatives for reliance on any information presented during these educational activities.

Waiver of Liability Agreement

I release Schoolhouse Education, LLC, OT Schoolhouse, and its staff, presenters, and any other individuals or entities associated with this course from any and all liability connected with my participation, as well as from any liability related to changes to the schedule, events or activities. I acknowledge and agree that I am participating on my own choice and assume all risk in connection thereof and that in the event that a need for emergency medical service arises, I authorize and consent to such services being provided at my own expense.

Cancelation & Refund Policy

In the event that Schoolhouse Education, LLC must cancel the event for any reason, participants will be offered a credit toward the rescheduled event. OT Schoolhouse Collaborative subscribers may cancel their subscription at any time. 

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