Co-Treating with the OT

Today is Thursday, which is one of my favorite days of the work week. It’s the day I co-treat with the OT, my friend and colleague Kat Felkner. We run several types of groups together. We run traditional speech/OT type groups, class meetings and lunch groups.

We start most of our groups with a GoNoodle video. GoNoodle is a fun, web-based library of music and movement videos  We project the videos on a large screen in the classroom and students imitate the movements  As students complete the videos they move up in levels. After 10 levels, the class avatar gets a new feature, very exciting! Almost, any student can participate in some capacity. Some of the favorites with our kids include: LMNOP and Popseeko. And yes, we move with the video too!

Today I will focus on our lunch groups, AKA Kids’ Cafe. These groups tend to be very popular, if I do say so myself.  Kat and I are lucky enough to share a classroom, so we are able to run lunch groups in the treatment space. We also have some highly appealing activities which is strongly recommended, especially if you are going to ask first/second graders to give up recess. Our Wii system is popular and even the boys enjoy Just Dance.  We typically have 1-2 targeted students and then rotate peers models through. We have found it works well to have the same peers come for 3-4 weeks in a row (each group meets one time per week) to get an idea of the chemistry between the students. Everyone who has shown interest and has parent permission will have a chance to come at least once. By the end of the year, there is less rotating and the same kids come most of the time.

During Kid’s Cafe, we have the students eat together for a specific amount of time. All students are required to sit for this time. We have found this to work so kids don’t pass up on eating lunch in a rush to get to the fun activities. Of course, no one is required to eat but they do need to remain at the table. We use a few different activities during this “group” time. Currently the boys have been into knock knock jokes. We have been writing jokes on index cards for the kids and they take turns reading them to each other. We also post some fun facts on the board to spark a little conversation. Did you know a shrimp’s heart is in its head?? Curiously enough, whatever fun fact we post, no matter how obscure, the group also seems to have someone who already knew it. Hmmm. The girls have been asking to listen to music during the group time. That usually presents an opportunity to discuss preferences and dislikes.

Once the group time has ended, students are allowed to choose what they would like to do. We have different areas identified around the room. Each area is labeled with a picture and is marked open or closed.

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We have an arts and crafts area, game shelf, toy shelf, kitchen area, movement area (trampoline and scooters) and a video game area.  Sometimes, the kids want to do the same thing every time they come, so like magic we flip the smiley face around on the sign and close that area. I know, sounds cruel, but the kids really honor the signs and are almost always willing to go to another area try something else. As they exercise some flexibility, they sometimes are surprised to find themselves enjoying a new activity. They sometimes discover, somebody else might like the same things they do. Of course we use a visual time to keep track of the play time. When the timer goes off, students clean up and we return them to class.

With all of the demands on classroom teachers for minutes of educational instruction, the lunch group can be an ideal way to service children requiring social/pragmatic language. Typical peers are available, no instruction is missed from class time and no one seems to recognize it as a therapy service. It’s a win, win.

I’ll share more about the other groups we co-treat next week..

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