A new order by the Department of Education about sports for students with disabilities could be an opportunity for occupational therapy practitioners to get involved.

Photo by Percita.

The Department of Education recently said that students with disabilities must be given the opportunity to play on a traditional sports team or have their own sports leagues. The new order says that schools need to make “reasonable modifications” to accommodate students with disabilities or create parallel athletic programs.

“This will do for students with disabilities what Title IX did for women,” said Terri Lakowski in a Washington Post article. The Education Secretary said in a statement that sports provide invaluable lessons and that students with disabilities must have an equal opportunity to benefit from those lessons. Implementation of this groundbreaking order may take a while, but disabilities advocates see it as a huge victory. Read a Washington Post article about the new order.

Occupational therapy plays an important role in the schools promoting recess and participation in sports and activities. Occupational therapy practitioners working in schools can get information about recess promotion here, including some intervention examples. Similar to this order, one of the examples is identifying students who struggle with social participation or physical activity during recess and create play activities that reduce barriers or modify a playground apparatus.

Last year in the June 4 issue of OT Practice, a feature article examined how occupational therapy practitioners can help parents with children with sensory processing disorders (SPD) pick out an appropriate sport. Practitioners are often asked what sports their clients with SPD can or should play, and the article provides information and tips to help answer the sometimes tricky question. AOTA members can read the article here

Occupational therapy practitioners could perhaps get involved with the implementation of the new Department of Education order in schools. What ways do you think occupational therapy could help schools?  How could OT help students with disabilities pick sports? Tell us in the comments.

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