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Episode 66 - Post Secondary Transition Planning with Liz Abadiotakis, OTD, OTR/L

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Welcome to the show notes for the Episode 66 of the OT School House Podcast.

Have you ever wondered what to do with your high school students? Did you there is such a thing as a Post Secondary Transition Plan that is required for every high school student on an IEP? If not, this is the episode for you! Today, I am welcoming to the podcast, Dr. Liz Abadiotakis, OTD, OTR/L to share with her experiences working with Post Secondary Transition Plans as part of an IEP team.

Key questions to be answered:

  • What is a Post Secondary Transition plan?

  • When must a transition plan be put in place?

  • What are the pieces to a transition plan?

  • How are IEP goals similar or different from transition plan Goals?

  • Who traditionally writes the transition plan?

  • How can OTPs support post secondary transition?

Links to Show References:


Now you can read the transcript here or download it to read later!

OTSH 66_ Post Secondary Transition Plann
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Amazing Narrator, Dr. Liz Abadiotakis, Jayson Davies

Dr. Liz Abadiotakis 00:00

I know that they recently had a developmental disabilities sis open conversation, where they invited members and non members to start talking and it was about post secondary transition planning. This is definitely a population of students that oftentimes does not receive our services or if they are there, you know, consultative base, and it's hard for us as therapists to really be in the mix of the team.

Jayson Davies 00:27

Hey, everyone, my name is Jayson Davies. And that was Dr. Liz Abadiotakis discussing post secondary transition planning, which is what we are going to get into this morning this afternoon, or this evening. Whenever you are listening to this podcast, we are going to dive into exactly what occupational therapists can do as students start to get older. I'm bringing Dr. Liz on to the show today, because that is one of the most frequent questions I get on social media. That is, what do I do with kids? Once they get into middle school in high school? How do I continue it? Or is it time to exit students from ot at that point? So we're going to talk about that? Exactly. In this podcast. All right. So stay tuned. We're gonna cue the intro real quick, and I'll be right back. All right. Enjoy the music.

Amazing Narrator 01:14

Hello, and welcome to the OT schoolhouse podcast, your source for school based occupational therapy, tips, interviews and professional development. Now to get the conversation started. Here is your host, Jayson Davies. Class is officially in session.

Jayson Davies 01:31

Hello, hello, and welcome back for Episode 66 of the OT school house podcast. Again, real quick. My name is Jayson, I'm so excited for you to be here today. Today we are talking about the post secondary transition planning also known as PTSP. For some of you in the know, that was a new term for me, I didn't realize that it had an acronym, but it wouldn't be special education and education as a whole if it wasn't an acronym. So that is just the case. Today we are welcoming on to the show Dr. Liz Abadiotakis also known as Dr. Liz, the OT, she has a website at, Dr. Abadiotakis has been in the OT field now for 18 years or so. And she has really found that her expertise is in supporting and educating parents, this is really a love for her. And well in that process. She found that post secondary transition planning is also a huge part of that in order to support those parents of children with special needs. So she is here to talk all about that today. Personally, I am super excited for this because this is actually the population that I initially intended to work with. Back in occupational therapy school, I actually created a program that was about incorporating film, and engaging students in general education and special education together to kind of facilitate that, that balance or those those skills and, and friendships between students with general education and within the special education population. I never quite got to the point where I got to do much of that I have a combined about two years working in the high school. So it is not an area that I feel super confident in. But Dr. Liz does this interview you're about to hear has helped me out so much to understand post secondary transition planning, and how we can continue to grow. A lot of times therapists see this high school period as a time where we should be removing ot services. Well, maybe after this interview, you might see that in a different light. And you might see a way that you can even enhance and improve the services that you provide in the high school and adult population. So without any further ado, here is Dr. Liz the OT I really hope you enjoyed this one.

Jayson Davies 03:53

Hello, Liz and welcome to the OT schoolhouse podcast. I'm so excited for you to be here today.

Dr. Liz Abadiotakis 03:59

I'm excited to I've been reading your emails and listening to your podcast. So I'm excited to get some information out there.

Jayson Davies 04:05

I love it. Yes. And you know, this has been one of the most popular questions I have gotten what we're gonna talk about today. And that is that transition program that Post Secondary Transition stuff. And I just love it. I get questions on social media, I get questions during my A to Z course office hours. And I have limited experience in that middle school high school range. So I'm excited to what you have to say. So to get started, how about you go ahead and share with us just a little bit about your background as an occupational therapist.

Dr. Liz Abadiotakis 04:38

Sure. I am primarily a school based and pediatric therapist, and I'm also a bit of an entrepreneur. So we have I started out in pediatrics at a clinic in Connecticut and moved up to be the clinical coordinator there and then moved to New Jersey once I got married to my husband. When I got here, um, besides dealing with the move and everything else, I decided why not open a private practice? That would be a great idea to some payoffs, right? So I did that with my college roommate. And we had a practice called the interactive playground and Wellness Center for about seven years, we were in schools, as well as having a sensory motor based clinic. And then, once I had my own children, I had to kind of move on from that, I went back to school to get my doctorate, and continue to be in school systems, because that worked out with my family life as well. And then, now I currently am in, again, a school system working for the Board of Education. In the teachers union, I know that's a topic that comes up a lot,as well. So I've worked actually as a contractor, as well as as an in house person. And I also now have a private practice that supports parents with one time questions or ongoing support. And that's for parents of kiddos with all different abilities. And that's via telehealth.

Jayson Davies 06:07

Gotcha. So, just upon what you just said, I actually have a few questions. So I want to ask you just these based upon your responses from just there. For those of us that have never been in a clinical role, what does it mean to be a clinical coordinator of a private practice?

Dr. Liz Abadiotakis 06:24

Sure. So in the I worked for center for pediatric therapy in Connecticut, which is Tara Glennon, who is one of the authors on the sensory pressing measure it was, and we, we had different levels of support there. So starting out in a clinic was really helpful, because it's primarily one on one treatments. And you have a lot of support around you, which is not always the case when you're in a school system. So we had contracts with schools. And we were also doing private therapy sessions in the clinic. So clinical coordinator was I was in charge, basically, of one of the four offices that were there. And then above me, was a clinical director. And then above that was obviously, the owner.

Jayson Davies 07:13

So you were kind of in charge of making sure everyone was a doing their job, but also that people had the development that they probably needed the mentorship that they needed.

Dr. Liz Abadiotakis 07:21

Yeah, so I did, I ran staff meetings and provided support, especially for new therapists around report writing. And I was actually at that point, I know, they're talking a lot with journal clubs. But one of the things that I had initiated during my time was at staff meetings, having people bring articles to the staff meeting to just review and taking turns doing that, to really just making sure that we're on top and on the cusp of what's coming up. And what is, you know, what, not only are the trends, but really what is the evidence saying that we should be doing while we're in clinic. So I think it really varies from clinic to school, because the support is there. And a lot of times what I'm hearing from therapists, because I speak as well. And what I'm hearing from therapists is that a lot of times the support isn't there, or it's there a lot for the teachers, but not necessarily that it's not necessarily specific to us. And we hear that a lot with regards to professional development days. And so there's a lot of things we can do. And we can talk about that a little bit in, in with regards to Post Secondary Transition as well. But yeah, there's definitely a big difference.

Jayson Davies 08:27

Awesome. So thank you for that. Because I I've never actually been in the pediatric clinic world. And so I really honestly couldn't have told anyone what the actual role was. So thanks. And then the other question that I had is, I think this is kind of specific to more the East Coast is people working for the Board of Education. Out here, we don't have anyone really that works for Board of Education, we work for a district, we work for a selpa, which is a local education plan, they kind of support multiple districts, in a way, but what does it mean to work with the board of education?

Dr. Liz Abadiotakis 09:00

Okay, so that's similar. So each district has their own board of education, and I'm in the state of New Jersey now. So that's, I worked for one Township, essentially, or one district. And then and they have that one board of education. I know even having worked in Connecticut, that they would have, like one Superintendent that covered multiple towns or multiple districts, essentially. So each state I think, is set up a little bit differently. I know even in the south, I've talked to people that they have, again, like counties that are working together to you know, to service, different towns and districts. So it kind of is a little bit different everywhere, but either you're basically getting paid through the state or no and you're able to receive the benefits that essentially the teachers are getting as well. Or you're working. You know, as a contract therapist. I know that also in New York, there was a they the occupational therapists they are trying to get into the teachers union because they were actually put into a separate you There's a big push to get them to be into in the teachers union as well. So there's a lot of different, a lot of different conversations happening within just the schools, themselves and within from state to state.

Jayson Davies 10:12

So yeah, absolutely. And that's why I always tell people, I mean, it's so different from especially state to state. But even when you even kind of zoom in district, a district is different county to county, very different. So always nice to hear the lingo from different areas. I know. I mean, some people, they go to what I consider an IEP meeting, but it's called something else. And so I just like to hear from people what, what the lingo is in their area. Great. Well, thank you. So now, let's jump into the post secondary population. At what point did you decide that this is an area that you wanted to focus on?

Dr. Liz Abadiotakis 10:47

Okay, so this is kind of interesting. You, I think a lot of times in Post Secondary Transition, you just fall into it. So right in a lot of things in the therapy world, you just opportunities come up and you problem solve, and you figure out whom there's a need here. And I'm going to advocate for this need. And I'm going to start supporting this need in this particular location, wherever you're working. So I had some experience in post secondary transition planning, which I feel like I should define first,

Jayson Davies 11:18

that was the next question, go for it.

Dr. Liz Abadiotakis 11:20

Before we move ahead, so when we talk about post secondary transition planning, we're talking about that students that are going to be graduating from high school and moving into adulthood. And that's the transition essentially, that we're talking about. And when we're talking about planning for that, we want to think about what skills will this student need in order to be successful in adulthood to obtain employment and independent living? So I feel like it really is marries itself well, to occupational therapy. And I've described it before almost as discharge planning. So some of us who have, you know, dabbled a little bit in sub acute care or acute care, you know, you when you're looking at discharge planning, you're looking at can this person care for themselves? Can they take care of their ADLs? Can they go back to work, and all of those things that you're thinking about in an acute or subacute setting is very similar to what you're thinking about in that high school setting? How is this student going to live and work independently? And how can we get them as independent as we need them to be?

Jayson Davies 12:24

Yeah. And you know, what, I? I'm going to stick to my next question. But I know I want to continue to dive more into what you're just saying, When must a transition plan start to be formulated or put into place?

Dr. Liz Abadiotakis 12:36

Great question. So federally, it does not need to be in place until age 16. However state to state that can vary. And so some states will say that there has to be post secondary transition planning goals in the IEP at age 14. So with that being said, there's another conversation that needs to happen. And that is that, although that's when it's legally supposed to start entering the IEP, we really need to be working on skills to prepare students for transition to adulthood a lot earlier than that. So I want we can talk more as we get into it, we could I can kind of delve into that a little bit more.

Jayson Davies 13:23

No, go ahead. Go ahead, actually keep going. So what's your what's your take on that? Then? When would you start optimally start planning for that?

Dr. Liz Abadiotakis 13:31

Well, there's, there's a variety of students that could benefit from this, right. So when we're talking about typically developing students that are in, you know, general education and being serviced in that way, we're still doing post secondary transition planning, right? We're trying to figure out what they're going to do after high school. And they're using tools like, I know, over here in New Jersey, we're using naviance, or one of those career planning questionnaires, and what are the students interest, and what are their personality and all of those things. And so we're always planning for transition. It's just that when we have certain students that are dealing with other learning issues, we need to support them in a different way. And so a lot of what I do, or the population that I work with is students with developmental delays. And so those are the students that are going to be able to access the Department of Developmental Disabilities Services post graduation. And so they are likely going to be staying from that 18 to 21 period where most students are graduating. So that's kind of my niche right now. But that's not to say that other therapists across the country aren't working with students that just strictly have learning disabilities that are May, you know, need a little bit more support in that transition.

Jayson Davies 14:49

Gotcha. So then, can you I guess I'll start with this is what is the difference between an IEP and a transition plan or how do they work? Together, how are they separate?

Dr. Liz Abadiotakis 15:02

Sure. So the plan is, essentially your planning is housed within your IEP. However, if you I do encourage people to look at ID EA, because it will specify and I talked about this actually, I have a webinar, and we can talk about that later. But I talked about the specific laws. And if you look in Ida, you will find the terminology that they're using for what kind of assessments really need to be done for students in order to prepare for that transition. And so that helps to guide you in your IEP when you're looking at what evaluations should we be doing? Um, you know, can this student take care of themselves? Can they do self care tasks? Do they have employment skills? And what is going to be the best or least restrictive setting for them when they leave? High School? So really, the planning is what ends up in the IEP plan?

Jayson Davies 15:58

Gotcha. And I know that there are specific transition goals, if I'm correct, are those the same thing as IEP goals? Are they slightly different,

Dr. Liz Abadiotakis 16:08

They're in a different section, probably, depending on what kind of IEP program you're using, it might be in a different section of the IEP, specifically, that states transition planning goals. However, the the IEP goals should really reflect the direction that we were looking for the student to be successful. So I know that, you know, I will talk about even to parents, and we talk at IEP meetings, how when you there needs to be a shift from working on those underlying skills and those foundational skills and really building up what the student has, which is what we're doing in elementary school, and then this shift into, okay, we've got a good foundation now. Now we need to start looking at their strengths, and what can we build on from their strengths that are really going to take them out into the world in a successful way. So the shift that needs to happen at some point, and that's different, depending on how the school system is set up. A lot of times that happens during middle school, but middle school can start in fifth grade and sixth grade and seventh grade, depending on what town you're working in.

Jayson Davies 17:15

Very true. Yes. It's all over the place. All right. So you kind of started down this road about thinking where a kid might be going, you know, are they going to be graduating at the typical age of 17? Or 18? Are they going to be remaining in a adult transition program from 18 to 2122? Whatever the state allows? Or our I don't know, are they going to college? Are they going to be getting a job, whatever that might be? What are some things that you try and focus on for those transition goals? Are you looking at like making sure the student can access their future job making sure that they can access disability programs? Or what are you trying to facilitate?

Dr. Liz Abadiotakis 17:57

So it's really a team effort. And you're working with the teachers, you're working with the psychologists, oftentimes districts will have a transition coordinator. And you also, of course, have the speech therapists, physical therapists, so whoever is involved in that students case, you're coming together and with everyone's evaluations, and really trying to figure out where what is going to be most valuable to the students. I talked about putting eggs in a basket, right? So if we only have you know, however, many years left, let's say five years left, and we've got these five eggs, you know, what, what basket is going to bring us the biggest yield for the students. So do they we know, considering the research, we know that self care skills and independence and self care skills can be a very good predictor of whether or not a student gets employed. So we want to make sure, first and foremost that they have, again, those foundational skills that they need that in order to be able to then obtain a job. So when I'm looking, we may be doing simultaneously self care skills. And we may also be doing pre vocational skills. At the same time. We really want to make sure that our pre vocational skills are geared towards those students interests and their abilities.

Jayson Davies 19:16

Yeah, and it's interesting, because you know, we're, we're at that age, especially when you're at middle school, and everyone's trying to figure out, should I start to go to console and work my way down, because their handwriting is never going to get better? Do I need to increase services? What do I do? Kind of, do I need to stay on? Or should I back away like, Can I continue to help this kid? And so what is that mind shift that you think needs to happen as a student goes from elementary, and I'm moving toward Middle School for the occupational therapist.

Dr. Liz Abadiotakis 19:49

I'm going to give you the example and you asked me earlier like how did I get into this and I did kind of fall into this now I had experience I worked at I had an internship and a community based Center, that was a post 21 program. And I also worked in a regional service center in Connecticut, that was strictly for students that had developmental disabilities. And they were out in the community and doing a lot of things already, so that I had a basis. But I had students that I hadn't seen in elementary school, when they were very young, and one in particular, one student in particular. And she came up to the middle school and had me again, so I don't see them from a period of time, because I'm like Qaeda, you know, pre K to third, and then our school district breaks up again, and I don't see them for like three years, and then they come back to me. And so when they came back up to the middle school, they were like, Where is all your fun stuff? Where is the trampoline and the swing and the math, like what is happening here? And so I was like, oh, my goodness, we have these goals. You know, we have to work on some fine motor skills, and some, you know, some other functional skills, but how am I going to make this fun for my students. And that's really how my role and transition started kind of erupting and moving into these other areas. And so I decided that in order to make fine motor skills, interesting for them, and fun for them, that we were going to make a craft store. And that this craft store was going to allow us not only to work on our fine motor skills, but also on all of our process skills in our sequencing and our casing, but also on our pre vocational skills, which gets into how we are going to manage the money for this craft store, and how we're going to make purchases and how we're going to add up our profits and figured out how much money we should spend again, and what products were successful and what products weren't. And so it became this a project that was a small project that became bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger.

Jayson Davies 22:00

Wow. Yeah, cuz, you know, we always, I don't know, maybe once a year, if you're in a special education Facebook group or something like that, you always see the coffee shop idea, it pops up, like there's a school somewhere always has a coffee shop that the kids have. Right? Yeah. And you know, it's always a great idea. It's, I think it takes a lot of planning, it's, it's not just a learning experience for the kids. It's also a learning experience for the teacher, the OT the speeds everyone involved. But so that's kind of a similar idea of what you guys did, except you incorporated crafts rather than coffee.

Dr. Liz Abadiotakis 22:34

Right. And so we had a coffee shop, they had a coffee shop there, I did start with crafts with the craft store. And I started that just within the OT sessions. So we were it was just an OT session, we would sell it at lunch, they had to work with a speech therapist to be able to, say their ad or like their advertising during the lunchtime, they had to, you know, their little spiel was a great up here, no connection, kind of an activity, because the students would come up and actually purchase the crafts and support their fellow students. And so that was really nice to see as well. And so it was only within ot sessions, because I needed something that was going to fulfill my goals and basically allow them to, to learn. And as my students got up into the high school, that's where they had the, what we call cafe. And so we I actually, at that point moved into the classroom, the life skills, we call that classroom with the teacher, which was really extremely helpful. And if you have the opportunity to be in the classroom with a teacher that's teaching functional skills, and share space, that can be critical. It allows for that planning time, which we don't all have, but it will happen on the fly, because you're just in the same room together. And we went on to be able to create a lot of different programs that started to look out, you know, what did she have, and I was able to kind of figure out what was missing, you know, and one of the things that was missing for our district was getting out into the community. And so not only did we have to go buy these crops, I used to go to the store and do the purchases. But we were able to end up getting busing. And so we started being able to have a reason then to go into the community that that filter back to the actual project of the craft store. And so this one little idea becomes bigger. And I think that's important for therapists to hear. Because when you talk about transition, and you can go down the rabbit hole looking for all of the information that's out there, and there's a lot but I want therapists to know that if you start with a small idea and you just start in your sessions, it can grow and you will see where it needs to grow.

Jayson Davies 24:54

Yeah, I agree we actually had a, I mean, it was kind of what you're talking about. Getting out of To the community that the high school that I worked at, they would go to our den. So maybe on Tuesday, they would collect cans from the classroom cans and bottles from the classroom. And then on Wednesday, they would actually walk to our sins, they would drop out the cans and and get some money from the cans and the bottles. But more importantly, is that also on Tuesday or the Monday before they had created a shopping list. And so now in Albertsons, they're buying what they need for a meal that they're going to prep on Friday. And so that was kind of a weekly thing that they worked on meal prepping. And that was that year, I don't know, I'm not at the high school anymore. Maybe she's moved on to something. Well, right now, it's pandemic time. So nothing's happening. But yeah, I mean, it's great when you're able to get into the community. That is, that's for sure.

Dr. Liz Abadiotakis 25:48

Yeah. And I think that if those programs are already up and running, that's an opportunity to say, as the therapist, instead of pulling my students out of the classroom, I'm going to push into whatever's already happening. And that was a lot easier to do in, you know, my regional service center, because they did have they had a salad bar going on, they had jobs that were already in the community. And so I didn't have to invent this new wheel, I was able to push in and integrate into that, um, we did have a, I'll tell you a funny story. We had a, we used to go out to the stores, we had vans that we could take out whenever we needed to. And we would go shopping, and our students were pretty involved. And we realized that there was a need for helping them to be able to push a cart down an aisle not run, you know, full bore 60 miles an hour, with a cart down the Costco aisle with myself. And the other otaa running after them. It was quite an experience. But we ended up going to our local Bob's at the time, which I don't know that there's very many of those left. And we actually asked them, can we have a cart we need, we need a shopping cart, and they had small carts, and they let us have one and we tossed it in the back of her Toyota, I don't even know how it fit, as we would practice with the students how to walk and stop, and just following those simple commands of walking and stopping while pushing a grocery cart in the school, so that when we went out into the community, they would have that skill to be able to go out with mom and dad. You know, and that's, I mean, that's just so simple. But again, like you went, if you push into what's already happening, you will see, you know, how you will be valuable and where your distinct value will come into play. Because you're going to be able to assess what's happening.

Jayson Davies 27:35

Yeah. And, and the same thing, I went out into the community and, and with the kids, and we would walk to Albertsons. And so a lot of the things that we worked on were safety, you know, making sure that we're stopping at sidewalks not just running into the street, that we're looking both ways that we understand what signs mean. And then money when you're when you're making the purchase, you know, getting money, how to appropriately interact with the lady at the meat section and ordering things. So I'm definitely so many skills that that can be worked on, for sure.

Dr. Liz Abadiotakis 28:08

I can kind of jump off on that. I know, there have been therapists also that have asked, you know, well, I can't get out or I don't have the funding. And you're saying already, you know, we've walked to whatever was, was available. And I know that I was my particular district is in a very suburban area and was rural. And so we had a community garden that was down the street. And so that was the way we actually addressed pedestrian safety, we and then we were part of the community as well again, and that was a whole nother set of three vocational skills and learning and science. And there's so many other things that that can come along. So you have to just look at what's around you. There may not be a store there. But what else is around there? Is there a library? Is there a post office is there a garden is you know, there's got to be something, you know, next to you. And if there's not, there's at least probably a street that you can cross, at least get out and do a little pedestrian safety.

Jayson Davies 29:06

Absolutely. Great idea. Thanks for mentioning that. So I also want to mention the same high school that was our life skills class, just like you were talking about, but with some of our other kids, the RSP. You know, kids that aren't full day in a special education classroom. I rarely ever knew about the transition plan. And I don't know if that's the case for a lot of other OTS. They just don't like even they don't even know about the transition plan until they're in the IEP and someone is just saying here's our transition plan goals. Have you experienced this or what do you suggest an OT do if they're not really integrated in that process?

Dr. Liz Abadiotakis 29:44

Yeah, I think this is a difficult area and I'll and there are conversations that are happening. I know that he recently had a developmental disabilities si Yes, open conversation, where they invited members and non members to To start talking about it was about post secondary transition planning, this is definitely a population of students that oftentimes does not receive our services, or if they are their, you know, consultative base. And it's hard for us as therapists to really be in the mix of the team, because the team at that point seems so you know, spread out because there's so many different teachers for every different subject area. And then there's the case manager as well. So it's a challenging group of students to work with, I think that we have to look at the IEP prior to the meeting happening if possible. And we have to be proactive in looking at that plan. It's, it's listed right in that IEP. So if we know it's in there, and we want to be part of that conversation, we need to be talking to the case manager in advance, we need to be looking at what what was in there last year, you know, and is there something that I can be contributing to that conversation?

Jayson Davies 30:57

Yeah, and you know, I actually was just looking at aota. The other day, they had a training, just the other day, and I attended an online webinar, I think anyone who's an aota member can access the replay for free. But it was all about OTS role and transitions. And you're right, they are being proactive about it. If you go on to their website to, there is a section under the children and youth that's labeled transition. I'm looking at it right now. I haven't had a chance to really dive into see what all is there. But you are absolutely right. They are trying to put some put some focus on onto it. So what do you think? Do we kind of already go over all the barriers? Or do you think that there's other barriers out there?

Dr. Liz Abadiotakis 31:39

Ah, there have definitely there's other barriers. I think people talk a lot of times about administration. And they also talk about other therapists, I'm going to be honest, I've been in a couple different conversations, I've been in conversations, I did conversations that matter at a AOTA in New Orleans. And then I also was invited to speak on a panel at Quinnipiac, for their 50th anniversary. And in both of those conversations, there were therapists mentioning that other therapists were telling them that we shouldn't be involved in transition planning. So I really felt like it's important for people to look at what it is so that it's not a topic or an area that you know that they're saying we shouldn't be involved in without having the knowledge behind it. Right. So we want to make sure that if we're going to make a decision like that, and maybe it's not right for our school system, for whatever reason that we're looking at the evidence that's out there, we're looking at what AOTA is talking about, before we start creating a barrier for our fellow professionals. Yeah, that's such a topic. But you know, we I want to make sure that therapists are getting, you know, getting the information that they need and getting it from a reliable source. I think that one of the things that a lot of therapists are nervous about or could be concerned about is that workload first caseload, right. And so how are they? How is this going to affect them? If this one therapist decides she's going to start keeping students on at the high school level? How is that going to trickle down and affect the other therapists, and there are a lot of creative ways to be able to serve as students without making that caseload overwhelming. Um, but also, we have to think about how are we advocating for ourselves, if our cases are getting too big, that's not a reason to say we're not servicing students. That's a reason to say to the administration, we need more support, and we need more therapy services. And this also came up in a couple different sessions at the at a conference. And I know that therapists, I worked with a therapist that I mentored, and there was a therapist that mentioned it at the conference as well, if you cannot fit certain students on your schedule, there have been therapists that have made lists of students and said, I cannot service these students, these students will not be being seen until you hire somebody to see them. And so at some point in time, we need to advocate for ourselves, because what is the quality of the services that we're providing? If we're completely overwhelmed?

Jayson Davies 34:06

I 100% agree with what you just said. I actually at one point, and in a job, I did a caseload slash workload study for myself. I only did it over the course of I think it was three weeks. So didn't like yeah, those three weeks, I had to mark every 15 minutes what I was doing, who I was seeing and whatnot. But at the end of those three weeks, I kind of put together an Excel spreadsheet. And I showed it to my boss and said, Look, I don't have enough time in a day to see all these students. And sure enough, it took a little while, but they did bring in a contracted occupational therapist to help out. And so yeah, we can't just start decreasing services because our caseload is too high. No, we have to ask for help. And I recommend a workload, some sort of workload study if you can do it. Check it out.

Dr. Liz Abadiotakis 34:58

And I believe they have a calculator now. Somewhere on the arrow to a website, there's a workload verse caseload calculator, I believe,

Jayson Davies 35:04

is there. I know I created one. I haven't launched it yet. Okay. Yeah, I created one. So I'll have to launch it now with this podcast. But I was kind of waiting for the whole pandemic, because right now everyone's right, what is the caseload right now? But yeah, so I'll look for the aotea. One as well. So we'll have to figure that out. All right, well, let's look at the specific classrooms. How important is an occupational therapist understanding the curriculum for a classroom, especially if you're in like a life skills type of classroom?

Dr. Liz Abadiotakis 35:37

Oh, that's very important. And I mean, that's important. We know that even at the lower elementary level, that we're, you know, a lot of therapists are more comfortable and used to, we have to know what is being taught in the classroom, in order to know, you know how we're best supporting a student, if I, if students are not getting what they need in the classroom on a regular basis, then my one time a week is not going to cut it. Because we need carryover, we need generalization. And in order to get that that needs to be happening throughout the school day. And so we have to be familiar with the curriculum, and understanding what is being taught and then know where the gaps are, so that you can then advocate for curriculum that maybe needs to be written and get involved. And that's, you know, I kind of mentioned to you before I was involved in writing curriculum in my district, we were not I was not as an occupational therapist allowed to write it on my own, which I completely agree with, because I'm not the one that's going to be teaching it. So it has to be a therapist as well as a teacher. And I've worked with several teachers to write several different curriculums, we wrote the life skills curriculum, we wrote a community integration curriculum. And we also wrote a job exploration curriculum. And so there's not every curriculum is going to fit every district. And so we've looked at other districts curriculum, and, and depending on the population of students, or depending on the number of students, because we're a smaller district, you know, your needs will be different. So you really need to look at what are the students being taught? What are the gaps? What are the strengths? And do we need to do a rewrite or an adjustment? And how can I get involved?

Jayson Davies 37:22

Yeah, I think it's great that you actually, were able to work with the teacher to create your own curriculum, because I have worked with life skills, especially classes, whether they be in elementary school or high school anywhere in between, that they just don't understand the curriculum that they're being provided. They're being handed like six giant books. I know some, at least one of the popular ones is called basics. That's a, that's a popular program, I think, and, but they've never really been trained in it. And so a lot of these teachers are just kind of flying by the seat of their pants, trying to figure out how to implement this, this curriculum that a they didn't develop, be, mean, if you've been in a special education class, you you know that the curriculum almost needs to be designed specifically for that classroom, because those kids are so different, you know, you never know what one classroom of special education students is going to be similar to another classroom of special education students. So that's great. Tell me more about so you develop several curriculum.

Dr. Liz Abadiotakis 38:23

Right. And I think that that's important to understand that there are curriculums out there that are written that, like you said, they're being handed to the special education teachers. And a lot of times the teachers that are in more, you know, with the more involved students, they don't have a curriculum that's already preset, which makes it their job a lot harder. But when you're being provided with this curriculum, that doesn't mean that that curriculum is set for that district, that district really needs to be tailoring it, and writing it within their own format within their own on their own letterhead within their own school community to figure out what's going to work for them. So, curriculums are written to basically say, here's what's best practice for, you know, teaching community skills, great, but we need to teach also self care skills, and you know, and other skills, and we only have one block of time, so I need to take two curriculums and meld them into one to be able to teach what needs to happen within these four marking periods. So to have a curriculum available, doesn't mean that that's how it's going to be carried out from marking period to mark wicker you really need to know, on day 17, what is this teacher teaching? You know, what are she reviewing? And that's, that's the missing piece. I think that sometimes, you know, happens.

Jayson Davies 39:37

Yeah, I agree. Because it's really hard to help a classroom when you don't know what they're trying to do. And I recommend that too. That's one thing that I teach in the agency courses or my my A to Z school based OT course is you need to know what the classroom is working on. Because if you're working on one skill, and they never have the opportunity to practice that skill in the classroom, then is it gonna Are you ever actually going to meet that goal, probably Not? So yeah, no, that's very important. I'm going to ask you a question. And it's a little bit on the spot. tricky question. But I know people listening would probably be upset with me if I didn't ask this question, what might a goal that you would write, what might that look like for a student in a transition in that high school range looking to transition eventually,

Dr. Liz Abadiotakis 40:21

Sure that the transition goals specifically are can be very broad. So it could be, you know, the student will be exposed to multiple career cluster areas, to you know, to decide what, you know, their areas of interest sometimes are broad, they're not as measurable, it's just for exposure, if I'm going to write a specific goal, then a lot of times, you know, depending obviously, on the level of student, there's so many different levels of students. But if you're going to look at it with regards to career interest or exploration, you can certainly write a goal that a student will be able to gather information from the internet to state three facts about a career of interest after being exposed. So you know, allow them teach them that process of how am I going to gather the information? And then and then give them a topic? Okay, you're going to look up, you know, construction worker today, can you find three facts about this job, and I have specific facts. So I usually put in my in my little parentheses, what they'd have to do, they need to know the Hours of operation, they need to know the pay. And they need to know the responsibilities and those and I want them to understand that we had a conversation, a lot of students are really interested in animal working with animals and animal science and all these things. And then when we talk about jobs, working with animals, we also talk about and I'm gonna say the word, we talk about poop, and that you have to potentially pick this up. And so, you know, as soon as they hear that, they're like, No, no, no, no, I'm no longer interested in this area. But that's why these conversations are so important, because we have they have these ideas about maybe they really want to work in an area or they have an animal at home, and they're really, you know, interested in them. But who is actually cleaning up after this animal who is actually interacting with this animal all the time to do all the caretaking. You know, that's an opportunity to say, you know, you need to start doing the caretaking. If you really will have an interest in that area, then why don't you know, that's a good way to work with families to, to try to get some skills. So we have to talk about the interest.

Jayson Davies 42:21

Yeah. And so yeah, I mean, poop. Alright, anyway. He said, Would that be then a transition plan? Or would that goal or would that be an IEP goal, that's more specific goal that you made.

Dr. Liz Abadiotakis 42:37

So the IEP and the transition plan, they're all in one, it's one whole big document. So your transition plan is inside of your IEP. So if you look specifically at your transition goals, it would be that this student is going to be exposed to, you know, careers of interest, or the student is going to complete, you know, an interest checklist to identify areas of interest, though, those are your exposure areas, those are your broader trickles that are going to be in your transition plan.

Jayson Davies 43:07

So the goal that you made a little bit more specific.

Dr. Liz Abadiotakis 43:10

And then, and then your ot goals are going to be more specific, or your my ot goals are sometimes with the teacher. So it will be OT and teacher. Right? And which we want to see more of. Yes, as you get up higher. So you're you're collaborating with the teachers to get more specific into, okay, yes, we want to expose them and they're going to be exposed, they're going to do this interest, interest inventory. But how are then we breaking that down within the document of the IEP? Yeah, so the transition goals and the IEP goal should marry to each other, they shouldn't be separate.

Jayson Davies 43:42

Like that. And and going back to what you said earlier, you really need to kind of talk as a team prior to the IEP to make sure that that's happening. You can't just go to an IEP learn what the transition goal is. And then, well, I already created my IEP goals. So I'm just gonna leave it that way. You need to you need to collaborate beforehand. Definitely. Absolutely. All right. We're gonna wrap this up pretty shortly here, but I want to give you the opportunity to actually share about a time you really felt accomplished, and knew you were making a difference with a student, especially in that transition age.

Dr. Liz Abadiotakis 44:11

Oh, boy, you're definitely Yeah, I think when I was able to see my students out there in the community, I know it's a different world right now. But seeing them succeed, interacting, you know, with peers, interacting with community members, I'm one of the most fun activities that we used to do is, you know, go to the mall to go shopping at holiday time. And just to allow, you know, just to step back and watch them make their own purchase, after we had practiced in class and we, you know, we reviewed all the steps and, you know, we've done all the mock situations, but to see them actually they're doing it and to see them honestly, you know, kind of referencing you vision Really, I mean, like, are you really gonna let me do this Are you really gonna just let this happen, um, and us kind of giving that reassuring look from you know, far away and then kind of completing that task, it's just, that's what makes me smile to seeing them get gained that confidence, because we've trusted that they can succeed.

Jayson Davies 45:19

Yeah, I completely agree with you just going on those outings and being able to see what they really can do. Because, yeah, on the campus, you don't get to see that I mean, everything is often sheltered. And so we don't get to see that one of my favorite, one of my favorite memories is actually a kid that we had. And he was in the life skills class, but he was one of the higher functioning kids in there. And he was participating in baseball after school, he wasn't actually on the field, particularly playing, but he would go to practices, he would interact there, and he would get to go to the games and kind of hang out with the guys. But this particular instance, we were actually just out on the quad. I mean, a lot of times that life skills classes, typically kind of to themselves, but every now and then they allow some of the kids who can go out into the quad, and he was trying to figure out that high school social skills aspect. And we're doing that exact same thing, it would be me and maybe the speech therapist, and we'd be out there and just kind of, you know, standing back and watching him, like making the decisions that he makes, you know, there was a particular girl that he was interested in and kind of working on, alright, well, what's too much, you know, what, what is allowed what's appropriate at school versus what's not appropriate school, things like that. And at times, you know, I didn't think about it till just now, like, at times, we were actually working with also the general education students a little bit, to almost kind of teach them how to be appropriate around some of these kids who, who they learn a lot, they look up to the general education, students. And so teaching them about, you know, how things that you do with your general education peer might not necessarily be appropriate, with a special education here.

Dr. Liz Abadiotakis 47:07

Yeah, and also allowing the kiddos to see that they, students that have different abilities can also succeed and be independent, and not to just automatically move to help them. Because, you know, I think that that's a lot of times what we'll see too, when we do those integrated, you know, activities is that they want to help their peer instead of, you know, kind of looking to see what their peer has to offer just interacting in a, you know, more typical way. And so, you know, they have to get comfortable. And that's, you know, part of the reason why it's good for them to be integrated.

Jayson Davies 47:42

Yeah. I have a question. Actually, again, just popping up with questions. Now, when you go on those off campus trips, community outings? Did you ever have to explain yourself going on those community outings to an admin as to why it's important that you go on those outings? Have you ever had to do that? Or where you're Where was your administration? Were they pretty understanding of that?

Dr. Liz Abadiotakis 48:06

No, I, my administration, I've been very lucky, you know, myself and the other therapists, we had really strong spatial therapists that knew about transition that were invested in, in transition we had, we played a very large role in developing the life skills, essentially program, which is what we were calling it from kind of as the students moved up, we were smaller districts. So as the need grew, you know, the program grew. And we were played an integral role in that. And when we're talking about community outings, I just want to mention, we're talking about there's two different kinds, we're talking about community based instruction, and then work based instruction or structured learning experiences. So those are two separate things, and really large components of transition programming that need to be happening for that generalization to occur. Yeah, but yeah, I know that that is a concern. I think that looking at what is your administration wanting from you? What is their bottom line? Is it you know, funding? Is it numbers or mandates, you know, know what the districts and the administration's bottom line is, so that you can justify why how are you meeting their needs, you know, it's not going to cost them anything additional. And also, you're hitting your mandates as needed.

Jayson Davies 49:23

I really like how you put that because oftentimes, you know, we try to make our point. But our point that we're trying to make, our administrators just don't care about. And so you really do need to find out, what is that? What are what are the admin focusing on? What is their goals for the year? What are they really trying to focus on so that you can speak to what they're listening to so great. All right. Well, we'll go ahead and wrap this up. What other recommendations would you provide if anyone has a burning desire to find out more about transition planning or resources, you have any recommendations that they started with?

Dr. Liz Abadiotakis 49:59

Sure. Of course, can I can I say my webinar. So I have a webinar, it's a two hour webinar on summit educational up summit Professional Education website, they have webinars that you can buy individually. Or if you're already an all access member, then you can certainly listen to that whenever you wanted to it was I already did it live in January. And so there's a recording already. And that's a good place to start. But of course, It has so many resources. And that's really a really good place to start. If you are feeling like you need more support in this area, though, I would reach out to your state association. As well as a OT, I know a AOTA. I'm a member of their community of practice on transition. But I'm also I work for an NGO ta New Jersey Occupational Therapy Association. I'm the secretary. And I also am the moderator of our community of practice, which I just helped to initiate that back in the fall, because we needed a lot of support considering what was going on in the world. And so if you can get involved in your state and ask for a resource, a mentor, somebody that can kind of just answer your how to questions, that's a great place to start if you don't want to go big.

Jayson Davies 51:18

Great. Well, thank you for that. And then last question is Where can people learn more about you if they're interested?

Dr. Liz Abadiotakis 51:23

Sure, you can go to where you can see my social media there, and all my other fun projects.

Jayson Davies 51:30

And we will be sure to link all of this all the resources that Liz talked about today will be at the show notes. So be sure to check those out. To get easy access to all the different things that she talked about even the webinar and our website. And if I can get her social medias on there, I totally will. So check that out. But yeah, do you have any other last words that you wanted to share?

Dr. Liz Abadiotakis 51:52

Just make sure it's fun. Think about what you like to do, and make it fun.

Jayson Davies 51:57

Great. Well, thank you so much for joining us on the show today. I really appreciate you being here. Again, so many OTs have come to me with what do I do in high school and middle school. So this is gonna be great. I hope everyone learned so much from you today.

Dr. Liz Abadiotakis 52:10

Thanks so much for having me.

Jayson Davies 52:11

Great. Take care. Alright, and that wraps up today's episode. Thank you one more time to Dr. Liz for coming on the show sharing so much about post secondary transition planning. I hope you all really appreciated that. If you're in the elementary schools, maybe you don't work with this as much. But if you're in the high schools, you know exactly what this is about. And if you've had any experiences like me, there's very little ot incorporation into that transition plan. So hopefully you can now take the knowledge you have and get in there and help with that program. Also, don't forget to check out the show notes for all the links that Dr. Liz did mention. You can get those at ot schoolhouse comm forward slash Episode 66 or in the description right below in your podcast player. All right, well take care everyone. Thank you so much for listening today, and we'll see you next time. Bye.

Amazing Narrator 53:03

Thank you for listening to the OT schoolhouse podcast. For more ways to help you and your students succeed right now. Head on over to until next time, class is dismissed.

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