Springall Academy Occupational Therapy
By Lyndy Gelb Cuevas, Springall Academy Occupational Therapist
I began working here in August 1998. I knew from the age of 12 that I wanted to become an cccupational therapist. I have a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a master’s degree in occupational therapy from the University of Southern California. I graduated in 1997 and spent my first year as an occupational therapist traveling around the United States working in various hospitals and nursing homes. My passion was working with children, and so when I moved back to San Diego, I pursued my career in pediatrics. That is when I found Springall Academy and have been here ever since.
Occupational therapy (OT) is an integral part of the Springall Academy program. My duty as the occupational therapist is to assist and improve the students’ skills in their occupations of being a child and a student. I work with the children of Springall to improve their ability to function in the classroom as well as around school and at home. The specific areas OT addresses are self-care skills, sensory processing skills, fine and gross motor skills, handwriting skills, visual perceptual/visual motor skills, keyboarding skills, and self-regulation.
My caseload consists of children ranging in age from 6 to 22 years. The students who receive OT services must be formally evaluated by the school district in order to receive OT services at Springall. The majority of students who receive OT services are seen on an individual basis. However, group therapy treatments do occur. As the occupational therapist, I am also responsible for educating, training, and collaborating with teachers and staff so that everyone understands the students’ individual OT needs.
Springall Academy has a schoolwide sensory motor program that I designed my first year working here. This program is a very important asset to Springall, as it has allowed children the freedom and ability to take sensory motor breaks throughout their school day, assisting them to function better in the classroom. All classrooms are equipped with a “sensory toolbox” that consists of various sensory tools, including squeeze balls, putty, and other finger fidgets. Students are encouraged to take sensory breaks and to use the sensory tools or other sensory strategies taught by occupational therapy to the students, teachers, and staff. This program has helped the children who require a sensory diet the freedom to use sensory strategies without being singled out. There are many stories of children who refused to use sensory strategies at their previous placement because they were afraid of being made fun of, but now at Springall are using sensory strategies regularly and are behaving better and producing more work in the classroom.
My goal as the occupational therapist is to support the students of Springall Academy and to help them to reach their greatest potential. Springal lAcademy is an amazing place, and I am very proud to be a part of the Springall Academy team.