Reports from the GHC school-based OT team

Thank you to Meghan Ornelas, OTR/L, Veronica Bernal, OTR/L, Michele Matthew, OTR/L, and Meghan Enabnit, OTR/L for sharing their experiences below:

Meghan Story: Meghan was able to use the Zones curriculum to identify that a visual schedule and calming music were the right “tools” to support an adolescent who became nervous, unfocused, or even angry and physical, at times, during transitions. Meghan used Zones curriculum activities to help the student and teacher identify that both having to terminate tasks before completion and the increased noise and movement during transitions, were “triggers” for his dysregulation. After some trial and error, the student, teacher and therapist determined he could best manage these challenges by using the visual schedule to know when transitions were coming, and playing some music on his headphones starting a few minutes prior to the transition.

Read Michelle’s story on our blog: She tells about a Kindergartner who was having trouble with classroom noise and the being in close proximity to peers and how she and the teacher used the Zones program to support him: It is on our blog in a post titled “It’s too Loud and I Can’t Sit Still!”

Veronica’s Story: She helped a student increase his energy in the classroom using a creative and personalized approach: Veronica helped a resistant student to use the Zones with a unique activity. Veronica asked the student to color a zones chart while she explained the emotions related to each color. Then she simply asked the student to pick up the color crayon he was currently feeling, because he did not like to verbalize about the topic. After repeatedly identifying that he was in blue zone (tired) and trying different tools to see what felt energizing to the student, cold water and squishy toys were selected by the student, teacher, and OT as strategies that could meet effectively meet his energizing needs within the structure and culture of the classroom. They then further identified, over time, that it was primarily in the last 1-2 hours of the school day that special strategies were needed. The final plan that was most effective for this student was to place the squishy toy in a drawer at the back of the room near the water fountain. During afternoon work and lessons the teacher would walk by and give a tap on the student’s shoulder if she noted his energy and effort were waning and this was his cue to get up for a drink and fidget break. He was also given permission to take a break if he recognized this need himself. He was able to build self-awareness and self-advocacy, confidence in his abilities, and a trusting relationship with his teacher through these simple Zones inspired exercises.

See Meghan’s amazing library of Zones-inspired tools and how she is using them with her students. It is on our blog in a post titled: The Curriculum in Action. Personalizing the Zones of Regulation Tools.