A Winning Model for Therapy in Classrooms

February 2020

The classrooms at Kayla’s Children Centre aren’t your average classrooms. Yes, there are desks, chairs and chalkboards; play areas and reading centres; computers and assistive learning devices – all the things you would expect in a classroom.

But there’s something more. Something you won’t find in most classrooms: A transdisciplinary team of therapists who work alongside every educator to assess and support the needs, goals and development of students with disabilities in order to achieve the greatest individual growth and success.

In a brief interview with KCC’s Director of Therapy, Wanda Gascho-White, RP, MTA, Ms White explains how KCC’s model benefits students across the board.

What is KCC’s therapeutic classroom model?
KCC takes a holistic, child-centred approach to education, therapy and recreation. That means every care plan is individualized, taking into consideration the specific – and very often complex and multidimensional – needs of each student.

Each classroom is assigned a transdisciplinary therapy team. On a weekly basis, our therapists work directly in the classroom with students as a group and in smaller sub-groups teaching day-to-day functioning skills, gross motor skills (like balance and coordination), fine motor kills (like writing) and language/articulation. Through instruction and functional modelling, classroom staff learn techniques and activities to enable continuity on a daily basis and help optimize the school day.

Push-in therapy is another key component where therapists practice functional modelling during naturally occurring situations in the classroom.

The expectation is that through collaboration, information sharing, demonstration, hands-on practice and adapting, everyone is following the same path to common goals in a coherent and consistent fashion.

Why is KCC’s model so unique?
To my knowledge, KCC is the only facility of its kind in the GTA to provide a full range of professional services on-site.

This is a real win for our students because it means our therapists are able to infuse evidence-based therapeutic interventions into the classroom on a weekly basis, in addition to whatever therapy they may receive one-to-one.

Our therapists know each student and are hands-on, which facilitates the two-way exchange of information and allows for adjustments as required.

Many of our kids receive one-to-one therapy. If they received that therapy offsite, it would be much more challenging to maintain ongoing consultation with our teachers. Which would mean teachers would have very little opportunity to learn how to incorporate therapeutic interventions day-to-day in the classroom for optimal benefit.

KCC’s transdisciplinary therapy team works collaboratively with each other, with our educators AND parents in the best interest of the whole child.

What exactly is a ‘transdisciplinary team’ that you keep mentioning?
Professionals in different but related disciplines each bring their expertise and experience to the table and through collaboration and interaction, develop a holistic, individualized plan for each student. They incorporate each other’s goals and are constantly learning new methodologies throughout the process. In a transdisciplinary team, there is no segregation of disciplines and the family is an active and equally important member of the team.

So, what does that all mean?
It means that at KCC we treat every child as an individual and combine our rich resources so they can reach their highest potential. Our top priority is that our students will become independent, contributing members of their family and community.

At KCC, the lines of communication are always open between therapists, educators and families, making the therapeutic classroom a place where everyone works together, shares expertise and is fully invested in the best outcomes for our children