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Support Services

The role of Occupational Therapy is to work with classroom staff and caregivers to help students reach their potential in educationally related activities. Occupational Therapy encourages the acquisition of independent functioning in the following areas: fine motor, visual motor, daily living skills, and acquiring sensory processing skills. Occupational Therapy services support the educational goals of each individual student as determined by the IEP. The Occupational Therapist is assisted by Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants who work directly with the students under the supervision of the Occupational Therapist. 

The physical therapist (PT) assesses the gross motor needs of the students, works with medical professionals to coordinate care, and carries out treatment of students based on their individual needs. Physical therapy services support the educational goals of each individual student as determined by the IEP team.

Physical therapists require a yearly signed prescription from a doctor to work with students. In addition to providing treatment to students, physical therapists serve as consultants to classroom staff. The majority of the students are participants in the MOVE (Mobility Opportunities Via Education/ Experience) program, which helps them acquire increased independence in sitting, standing, and walking This allows them to function to their highest potential within the school setting.

The physical therapist may be assisted by a physical therapist assistant (PTA), who works directly with the students under the supervision of the physical therapist.

The School Social Worker serves as a home/school liaison to families, provides school staff with useful information from the student's home environment and assists in obtaining services from Community Mental Health and other community agencies for families. The school social worker is an integral part of the Behavior Management Team, which reviews behavior plans, trains and plans processes for students with behavioral challenges.

The Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) provides direct and/or consult speech-language therapy services to students, within individual and/or group settings, to help improve their receptive and expressive language skills. The SLP also provides ongoing support to classroom teachers, parents and other school staff to help meet the students' varied communication needs. Communication goals are developed collaboratively with the classroom teacher and parents to address functional communication in school, at home and within the community.

The SLP's duties include, but are not limited to: evaluating students' speech-language needs, recommending intervention strategies, developing appropriate treatment goals and designing activities related to the specific communication needs of the students.

The SLP identifies materials and/or equipment to aid the students' communication. A variety of communication methods may be recommended to facilitate the students' receptive/expressive language skills including, but not limited to: sign language, PECS (picture exchange communication system) and AAC (augmentative & alternative communication).

Music therapy is an evidence-based therapeutic approach which utilizes music interventions to target individualized goals and objectives. A Music Therapist (MT) can address many clinical domains including physical, emotional, cognitive, social, and the academic needs of students. Although able to work in a variety of settings, the role of the Music Therapist (MT) in a school setting is to service individuals and/or classes to support and compliment needs in the classroom that transfer into daily living skills.

Collaborating with other health care professionals, MTs commonly cotreat with Speech-Language Pathologists, Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapists, Social Workers, as well as teachers and other staff members to best fit a student’s needs, while complimenting their abilities.

A music therapist must have a bachelor’s degree or higher from an approved music therapy program, 1200 hours of clinical training, and hold a Board Certified Music Therapist (MT-BC) credential. For more info, visit The American Music Therapy Association website.

These programs are designed for students who do not meet Michigan Merit Curriculum high school graduation/diploma requirements.  Programs also follow the philosophy of School-Wide Positive Behavioral Intervention Supports (PBIS).  Students may make transitions within these program opportunities based on their educational needs.  Students have the opportunity to participate in activities throughout the school year that are held at the Ottawa Area Center.  Some of these activities include dances, prom, seasonal and holiday events, Festival of The Arts and assemblies.  The typical age of students is 19 to 26 years of age.  Students must reside in one of the OAISD school districts which include:  Allendale, Coopersville, Grand Haven, Hamilton, Holland, Hudsonville, Jenison, Saugatuck, Spring Lake, West Ottawa and Zeeland.

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