Nearly 500 occupational and physical therapists working in school-based environments from across the state attended the 2nd biennial Texas Occupational Therapy Association’s (TOTA) OT and PT Service Delivery in Schools: Policy, Research, and Best Practices conference virtually on June 4-5.
TOTA is the state-run professional association for occupational therapists in Texas. The conference, hosted by TOTA’s School Focus Group Advisory Board, was held for the first time three years ago and was postponed last year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Carie Crabb, Harris County Department of Education’s senior director of school-based therapy services, serves on TOTA’s School Focus Group Advisory Board and led participants in a session to discuss Section 504 – a federal civil rights law banning disability discrimination in public schools. Crabb provided an overview of the history behind the law, recent changes to the law, and how those changes have impacted eligibility.
“This was an opportunity to make an impact and help therapists who work in school-based practice all over the state of Texas who don’t necessarily have a Harris County Department of Education like our therapists do to keep them up on best practices,” said Crabb. “It was an honor to present alongside state and national leaders in special education and school-based therapy practice.”
HCDE Therapy Services Manager Leah Alba and physical therapist assistant Nora Contreras, assigned to Cypress-Fairbanks ISD, served as panelists in a session that examined the importance of providing therapy in natural contexts. Gloria Frolek Clark, an occupational therapist, also spoke and is a national leader in school-based practice.
Other notable event speakers included Justin Porter, Director of Special Education for the Texas Education Agency; famed special education attorney Jim Walsh; nationally recognized occupational therapist and speaker Yvonne Swinth; and Susan Effgen, a nationally recognized leader and researcher in pediatrics and school-based practice.