PresenceLearning Introduces Online Occupational Therapy Services to Expand Support for Students with Special Needs

Monday, February 11, 2013

PresenceLearning, the leader in online speech therapy services for K12 students, is now offering online occupational therapy (OT) to help schools and districts better – and more efficiently – serve their students with special needs. With PresenceLearning’s OT services, highly qualified therapists use evidence-based practices to deliver one-on-one or small group therapy to students via PresenceLearning’s online platform.

“Occupational therapy is crucial in helping students with special needs learn the functional, visual, fine motor and self-care skills they need to thrive in school and life,” said Clay Whitehead, co-CEO and a co-founder of PresenceLearning. “Offering OT services allows us to use our proven online delivery model to help even more students reach their goals and to connect schools with hard to find experts in a cost-effective way.”

Like speech therapy, the field of occupational therapy suffers from a persistent labor shortage in the face of increasing demand. About a fifth of America’s 6-7 million students with special needs currently require occupational therapy and school districts often struggle to provide mandated services.

PresenceLearning’s online OT services can help schools improve their compliance with the requirement of the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) to educate students with special needs in the least restrictive environment (LRE) possible, getting as close to in-classroom as possible. With online delivery of OT services at the school site, students do not need to be transported to a specialty clinic to receive occupational therapy causing them to miss valuable time in class and with their peers. Less missed class time supports higher student achievement.

PresenceLearning’s OT services help students with a variety of different diagnoses – including, but not limited to, autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, speech or language impairment, and sensory processing disorder – make progress on their goals. During online OT sessions, the therapist, along with an on-site aide or learning coach, works with students using readily available and inexpensive materials such as pens, paper, tongs, dried pasta and other items to engage students and teach specific functional skills such as posture, tracking skills related to reading and writing, handwriting, keyboarding, cutting, and attention related to sensory processing.

Since 2009, PresenceLearning’s innovative online speech therapy has provided schools with web-based access to a nationwide network of highly qualified, fully licensed speech-language pathologists who are available whenever and where ever they are needed. By partnering with PresenceLearning, school districts can address acute and chronic SLP shortages, reduce high caseloads for onsite personnel, improve student outcomes and control costs. PresenceLearning also offers access to technical specialists, as well as culturally and linguistically diverse therapists.

During the 2012-13 school year, PresenceLearning will conduct more than 120,000 live online therapy sessions in public, charter and virtual school districts of all sizes nationwide.