top of page

OTS 139: Fostering Autonomy through Child-Led Therapy

Banner stating the name of the OT Schoolhouse Podcast Episode - School-based benefits of aquatic therapy

Click on your preferred podcast player link to listen wherever you enjoy podcasts.

Listen on Apple Podcasts App
Listen on Spotify
Listen on Google Podcasts App

Welcome to the show notes for Episode 139 of the OT Schoolhouse Podcast.

Ever wondered about the transformative power of child-led methods in creating inclusive and empowered learning environments for students with special needs?

Dr. Amy Coopersmith is here to share with us how students receiving special education experience occupation deprivation and the important role of child-led decision-making and planning in occupational therapy.

Through her own personal examples and strategies she shows how these approaches can help foster independence and self-advocacy ultimately unleashing these students' potential.

Tune in to hear more about many strategies such as the use of choice boards, self-monitoring, and the "Captain Me" program.

Listen now to learn the following objectives:

  • Learners will understand the significance of establishing a least restrictive environment for children with disabilities to enhance their autonomy and learning opportunities.

  • Learners will identify the importance of educators and occupational therapists actively listening to children, aiding them in formulating personal goals, and distinguishing between internally-driven and externally-imposed objectives to foster independence and empowerment.

  • Learners will explore practical strategies for engaging children in decision-making, planning, and goal-setting within occupational therapy sessions, aiming to cultivate self-determination and independence.

Guest(s) Bio

Dr. 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 therapist 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, and she continues to present at national conferences, mentor practitioners, and develop new materials to translate research into effective practice


“IEP goals are important, but what's most important is that they understand goals that are important for themselves."

-Amy Coopersmith, OTD, OTR/L, MA, Ed

“We need to be aware of ways we can help boost their confidence and help them achieve some level of competence at things they're good at, so that they have a positive experience with learning.”

-Amy Coopersmith, OTD, OTR/L, MA, Ed

“When they create today's plan. It's their plan, they own it. And so I think that's a very powerful message to the child.”

-Amy Coopersmith, OTD, OTR/L, MA, Ed

"Boredom allows students to become more advanced in their imagination, and their imaginative play.”

-Jayson Davies, MA, OTR/L


Be sure to subscribe to the OT Schoolhouse email list & get access to our free downloads of Gray-Space paper and the Occupational Profile for school-based OTs. Subscribe now!

Thanks for visiting the podcast show notes! If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcast, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts

OT Schoolhouse Logo

Single post: Blog_Single_Post_Widget
bottom of page