Occupational Therapy

The aim of the Occupational Therapist is to enable pupils to participate fully in every aspect of their life having more successful participation in daily life. This might include prescribing and procuring specialist equipment.


  • To focus on the quality of the daily life of pupils at Rutherford School and to maximise opportunities for participation in what life has to offer.
  • To increase opportunities and life chances – achieving their potential.
  • To guide the pupil towards adulthood with the best possibility of fulfilling themselves.

Occupational Therapy is just one part of the jigsaw and it cannot work in isolation. It must be based on a collaborative approach with the pupil, the family and education staff. It relies on the contributions from other team members such as teachers, physiotherapists and the speech & language therapist to reach the goal of improving their quality of life and participating fully in every aspect of their daily life.

Occupational Therapy involves working with the pupil, family and teaching staff, identifying areas of daily life which are problematic by collaborating with all those involved in the pupil’s care. The problems are prioritised to form goals. By linking therapy to a practical and normal part of the pupil’s routine, the therapist addresses appropriate needs without placing undue demands on the family and education staff.

Areas of Assessment

Occupational therapy is concerned with three main domains, which are self care, school life and play and leisure. We routinely assess the pupils, task and environment. Some of the assessments that occupational therapists are involved with can include:

  • Positions for function – It includes wheelchairs, class chairs, potty chairs and other positions that enable the pupil to access his/her environment and school tools.
  • Hands for function – The occupational therapist will assess components of function that are required to use hands in a purposeful way to feed themselves, help with dressing or use school tools.
  • Orthotics for hands and arms – The occupational therapist routinely assesses and works with pupils to maximise their participation in tasks such as dressing, toileting and eating and drinking. The occupational therapist contributes to the pupils’ eating and drinking guidelines so that they participate fully and achieve independence when possible.
  • Access – The occupational therapist focuses on removing barriers from the pupils’ ability to learn, helping pupils develop skills which increase their independence in the school environment, and educating school personnel about the different considerations required for pupils with disabilities. This is often through the use of specialist equipment and assistive technology, which might be as simple as a special spoon or a switch and as complex as environmental controls or a computer device.


Occupational Therapy uses two main approaches of intervention:

Restorative approaches – To establish and develop a new skill such as cause and effect. This might be through direct intervention or through advice and consultation with education staff and parents.

Adaptive approaches – To adapt and/or modify the task or the environment. This can be done through:

  • Provision of specialist equipment, assistive technology, adaptations
  • Simplifying or changing the task
  • Changing the environment
  • Training and enabling others
  • Modifying presentation of methods for educational material to meet the challenges of pupils, such as their ability to communicate, view and manipulate educational materials, and move about the school.

All the therapy led process/pathways are implemented holistically by multidisciplinary teams. An example of a pathway is eating and drinking of pupils from initial assessment through to independent eating and drinking.