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Reducing OT Referrals: Staff Room Referrals and Your Staff Room Response

If you are starting a business, you need an elevator pitch. That two sentence routine statement that states what your business is and why it is going to be successful.

If you are a school-based OT...

You need a staff room response.

This staff room response is a way to ward off the unnecessary and misinformed staff room referrals. You know, when a teacher you barely know sees you in the staff room and asks if you can assess a child in his/her class.

The teacher states the student cannot stay in their chair and absolutely hates writing.

So what do you do?

  1. Give the teacher a referral packet to fill out with an assessment plan.

  2. Give the teacher a strategy that make help the student and ask them to get back to you in a week.

  3. Tell the teacher to schedule an IEP for the student to discuss the concerns.

I have used each of these strategies at one time or another. And in this particular case, I propose that option 2 is your best solution.

I’m not going to get into what your strategy might be in this post, but if you can give the teacher a strategy that has a positive effect in this student’s ability to stay seated and write at their desk, then you may have just saved yourself however many hours an assessment, IEP, and treatment would have taken.

If it doesn’t work, well then you have options. Try another strategy for a week or two, or you can propose as assessment.

Options 1 and 3 are both viable solutions, but may result in the same recommendation from you, but only after several hours of evaluating and weeks of the child continuing to have difficulty in the classroom.

So to get back to your staff room response. It may look something like this:

“Oh, hello Mrs. Appleseed. Thank you for bringing this concern to me. Have you tried using some theraband around the legs of his chair so that he can fidget in his seat appropriately? No? Would you like me to provide you with some theraband so you may try it? Also, here is a simple data sheet you can use to track how many times he is up and out of his seat in a day.”

This plays directly into the RTI/MTSS model and would be considered a level 2 strategy. It also allows something to be put into place immediately rather than in 60 days after you have assessed.

Whether the this is a general education or special education student, this still applies.

One disclaimer, I guess you could call it… You want to try and prevent the teacher from identifying who the child is.

Under RTI/MTSS level 2 strategies, OTs are not to provide strategies for specific students. Rather, it is meant to be used for general concerns. The concern being a student having difficulty with completing work due to being out of his/her seat in this case.

So I hope this helps you save some time this school year and allows

you to help more students at your schools.

As always, we’d love to hear your feedback and would like to help in anyway we can. Comment below and don’t forget to subscribe so we can let you know as soon as the next post in this series is available.

Until next time,



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