Year of Publication

2021

Date of Thesis

06-2021

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Occupational Therapy

Abstract

School-based occupational therapists (SBOTs) interact with many different professionals and paraprofessionals to coordinate programming for students with special needs as part of the students’ Individualized Education Plans (IEPs). The work of an SBOT requires building a rapport with students and implementing interventions and strategies that best fit each student. Teacher’s aides (TAs) may be a useful source of information and knowledge for SBOTs about students as TAs spend multiple hours a day working individually or in small groups with students. Understanding the multiple roles a TA can play in the classroom and how best to utilize and collaborate with them could help a SBOT provide higher quality care to the students with whom they work. The purpose of this phenomenological qualitative study was to explore the role of a TA in relation to the potential for collaboration with a SBOT, understand how TAs collaborate with SBOTs, and determine the potential for TAs to implement occupational therapy interventions in the classroom. Five participants were interviewed, and themes were found relating to the multipurpose responsibilities of TAs, student-oriented motivation and dedication for TAs, TAs as collaborators, TAs training occurring through experience, TAs having case-based knowledge about occupational therapy, and the challenges of being a TA. OTs should understand the complex job of a TA and the dynamics of collaboration to best support student outcomes.

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