Tips for Parents and Teachers of Children with Special Needs from Beth Aune, OTR/L

Author Interview Series:  For the launch of our new Special Needs Book Review site, we have invited authors to participate in online interviews about their books, their work, and their lives. Many of the authors of the books we review are parents and teachers of children with special needs or health care professionals.  Other parents of children with special needs will be encouraged by their journey. Educators and the general public will learn how to help make these families’ journey more pleasant.

One author we interviewed was Beth Aune, paediatric occupational therapist, owner of Desert OT for Kids, and one of the three authors of two books:

Some of Beth’s answers also fit well in our Special Needs Blog because all parents with children with different needs can learn from them. Here is part of Beth Aune’s interview. Read the complete interview here.

Tips for Parents and Teachers

of Children with Special Needs

Lorna: My job as a teacher changed a lot from when I started to teach to when I retired.  What do you see happening with the role occupational therapist play in the care and treatment of children with special needs?

Beth Aune, OTR/L: Behavior Solutions for Inclusive Schools>> Beth Aune >> The focus of OT in the schools has made a shift from pull-out therapy to a collaborative and consultative model, which has been so very helpful and beneficial.  The focus on sensory issues that impact the arousal state, behaviors, and motor performance of children in the general education setting, as well as in the special education classes has been growing and validated.  I absolutely LOVE working with children in the natural settings at school and providing ongoing information, support, and strategies to the teachers and the paraeducators who work with these students on a daily basis.  It is such an effective model, and I find that these school professionals are hungry for the information that occupational therapists can provide.

Lorna: What would you answer to the question, “Beth what good things do you think your book can bring about?”

>> Beth Aune >> First, I would have to say that the impetus for us to write our books arose from our direct interaction with teachers.  As an OT working in the school setting, it was my natural instinct to hear teachers’ concerns and to provide immediate and effective strategies to help them help their students.  The challenge was that this occurs on a case-by-case basis.  The books can reach a broad audience, and the format of it is the same as when I work directly with one teacher:  the child has a behavior that is getting in the way of his learning…there is an explanation for that behavior…and there are practical solutions that can be easily and immediately implemented.

Lorna:  Behavior Solutions for the Inclusive Classroom is a must-have guide to find how to most effectively help special needs children be happy and productive in inclusive settings. What problems would an occupational therapist be asked to help out with, so a special needs child can function in an inclusive setting?

>> Beth Aune >>Occupational therapists are especially gifted in the area of skilled observation and task analysis.  When a teacher reports problems with a child who is motor restless, fidgety, inattentive, or even oppositional, we look at the environmental and task demands and problem-solve to come up with creative ideas to help the student.  It is critical to look at sensory processing and how the student’s deficits in that area (that are related to the disability) might impact his/her arousal state, social/emotional participation, and motor performance.

Lorna: In closing, what are your two best tips for Parents and Teachers of Children with Special Needs?

>> Beth Aune >> Celebrate your child and recognize his/her unique talents and gifts, rather than hyper-focusing on “fixing” him/her.  Focus on the strength areas and how they can be an asset to help the weak areas.  Be assertive, rather than hostile, with your interactions with school personnel to help them see your child as the wonderfully gifted and special child he know he/she is!

Never underestimate the power of play.  This is a child’s main occupation, and one that can easily be overlooked in the daily grind.  Take time to get on the floor, jump on the bed, blow bubbles, giggle, tickle, act silly.  Don’t lose touch with your own inner, playful child…it’s there!

Lorna: What different ways can we track you down and see what’s going on with you?

>> Beth Aune >>I’m working on a website for my business, Desert OT for Kids. Follow me on Facebook . My email address is autismwhisperer80@yahoo.com .Beth Burt co-author of More Behavior Solutions IN and BEYOND the Inclusive

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