August 29, 2018 by HCDE-Texas
Hear the 40-year celebration song performed by HCDE school-based music therapists: https://youtu.be/3F1loKJiuZ0
School-Based Therapy Services celebrates 40 years of service this year in greater Harris County. Harris County Department of Education’s occupational, physical and music therapists work with students and collaborate with educators to provide school-based solutions for students with special needs.
HCDE School-Based Therapy Services provides 53 percent of special education therapy services provided to students in the 25 Harris County school districts. As the therapists met Aug. 21 for back-to-school planning, Carie Crabb, senior director, reflected on the role her therapists play helping students and teachers be successful in the school setting.
“Our charge in special education is to provide therapies that are needed so that children can benefit from and make progress in their special education program,” she said. “We help students participate in their school settings alongside their non-disabled peers.
“For physical therapists, that means helping students with positioning and mobility needs like getting on and off the school bus and accessing the playground. For occupational therapy, this might have to do with helping to improve handwriting and fine motor skills to assist the student with completing written assignments. Also, we assist them with organizational skills and working with teachers to help adapt the learning environment to facilitate successful participation in school. Music therapists can help students retain knowledge through patterns and song or provide solutions to learning anxiety.”
With an average 10-year retention rate for therapists, Crabb thinks an excellent work environment coupled with management support and a flexible work schedule attracts therapists to HCDE and the school-based therapy career.
HCDE therapists assisted 7,070 students in the 2017-2018 school year, along with 8,000 educators. Crabb says serving educators completes a big part of her division’s mission.
“We’re not only serving students directly and providing them services, we’re helping support teachers and other educators on campus,” she said. “When I provide therapy for a student, I’m helping that one student, but when I help educators, they use that knowledge for all their students. The help I provide grows exponentially when I teach a teacher.”
Crabb believes there is a greater purpose in helping students with curricular and extracurricular tasks like taking a test or being able to be a part of the debate team or join the band or choir.
“Our mission is to help all learners in Harris County,” she said. “But our belief is that by helping students succeed and participate in their school setting, they will go on to succeed and participate in their community and life after school.”