On November 3, occupational therapist Elena Padron and Manager Amy Collins from Harris County Department of Education’s School-Based Therapy Services division shared best practices with families and therapists across the state at two different conferences. Padron addressed challenges with sensory processing at a regional conference, while Collins focused on dysgraphia at a statewide annual conference.
Padron, who serves a predominantly Hispanic community within the Houston Independent School District, is a subject matter expert on children’s sensory challenges and bridging the language gap between parents and educators. On November 3, Padron led nearly 20 Spanish-speaking families at a Region 4 Education Service Center workshop discussing sensory processing and how it affects students’ development, learning, and behavior.
“The Hispanic community often feels like they are voiceless, which can be intimidating in special education,” Padron said. “It was wonderful to provide families with the tools they need to advocate for their children in their native language.”
The presentation, “Sensory Processing; Solutions, and Classroom Participation,” shed light on strategies such as mindfulness and physical activities that can be implemented to help students grow academically and personally. Region 4 specifically asked Padron to conduct the workshop where she emphasized the students’ perspective when asked to sit still for extended periods or process information in overstimulating environments.
At the Texas Occupational Therapy Association Annual Conference across town that same day, Manager Amy Collins discussed dysgraphia, which she said remains a “hot topic.” Collins was asked to share her expert knowledge for the second year about the disorder, which is characterized by handwriting difficulty.
Entitled “I Hate to Write: Help for Developmental Dysgraphia,” Collins’ standing-room-only presentation welcomed more than 220 attendees to explore the consequences of failing to address dysgraphia. Changes in state legislation that have prompted the Texas Education Agency to emphasize the identification of handwriting disorders and provide appropriate support were also discussed.
“Students nationwide face handwriting challenges, but HCDE’s occupational therapists have the knowledge and training to address the issue before it affects their grades, academic achievement, and overall attitude about school,” Collins said.
To learn more about HCDE School-Based Therapy Services, visit hcde-texas.org/school-therapy.