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Wednesday, November 14, 2018 - 9:45am
Dobbs Ferry Campus

Professor Francine Seruya, PhD, who directs Mercy’s Graduate Occupational Therapy program, recently published two articles to address occupational therapy services in classroom settings for elementary and middle-school children.

In her most recent article, published in the September Journal of Occupational Therapy, Schools, & Early Intervention, Dr. Seruya and her co-author surveyed practice patterns and perceived needs of occupational therapy (OT) practitioners in middle schools. Earlier research conducted by Seruya had shown a tendency for OTs to continue using the same models of practice after the child enters middle school, even though a child’s needs typically change as he or she grows and develops.

Seruya’s colleague, Sonia Rodrigues, OTD, of Quinnipiac University, used social media to recruit a nationwide sample for the survey, which revealed interesting findings. “We learned that practitioners by and large are still using models better suited for younger children,” she said. “We also saw a tendency to implement practice models that are more medically based than educationally based. Occupational therapy practitioners, no matter what age group they serve, not only need a model specific to that age group, but they also could benefit from practical advice on how to implement that model in the educational setting.”

That practical approach was the subject of Seruya’s earlier publication, titled, “Implementing contextually based services: Where do we begin?” The article, co-authored with Mindy Garfinkel, OTD, also of Mercy College, appeared in SIS Quarterly Practice Connections, a publication serving members of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA).

“We began with what we saw as a disconnect between OT practices and IEP goals,” said Seruya. An IEP, or state-mandated Individualized Education Plan, is a program for specialized instruction and related services for any child with a disability that interferes with their functioning in a classroom. Seruya and her colleague developed a collaborative model that would give clinicians a foundation for developing effective education plans.

“Our model helps clinicians engage all stakeholders—student, teacher, parents and the school—to find common ground,” said Seruya. “All parties need a full understanding of what’s involved, and that means collaboration and mutual respect.”