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Centre for Special Educational Needs, Disability and Inclusive Education (SENDIN)

Regular centre meeting for staff and students (all welcome)

Javi Salazar Rivera will present her research - Support staff in inclusive education: The role of occupational therapists in Chilean schools.

Event details

Support staff in inclusive education: The role of occupational therapists in Chilean schools

Javi Salazar Rivera

Inclusive practices are encouraged in diverse Latin-American education settings. In Chile these practices align with the Universal Design for Learning that has collaboration as a core element. This suggests a role for the entire education community, but how each community group contributes to this is unknown. Occupational Therapists (OTs) play a key role in improving students' performance and participation. However, there appears little information on service delivery models and how they align with inclusive practices. This study aimed to identify these models of Chilean school-based OTs and explore the factors that influence them. A sequential exploratory study was developed. First, a cross-sectional survey was conducted, in which an online questionnaire was distributed via email and social media. This resulted in 245 valid responses for data analysis using descriptive statistics. Subsequently, online focus groups were held with 18 of the questionnaire participants, which were analysed with a thematic approach. Findings show that OTs support students mostly in preschool and primary years, classified with Autistic Spectrum Disorder, Intellectual/learning disability and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. They support students predominantly due to difficulties in performing and participating in activities that require executive functioning and fine motor skills, and due to sensory modulation or behavioural problems. Service models were characterised by direct services provided outside the classroom. Four themes emerged from the focus groups: resources, attitudes, institutional rules and legal absence. These findings indicate the need for a change in how inclusive education is fulfilled and the importance of OTs in this matter.