Incorporating public transportation into OT sessions can provide a treasure trove of OT rich activities addressing sensory awareness and processing, pre-vocational exploration, and the opportunity to tap into the many motor and cognitive demands needed to function outside of a structured school environment. Also worth mentioning is the added freedom from having to rely on district funds for off-campus trips.
Here are some tips for school-based OT’s thinking about taking your OT show on the road! For parents of children and young adults without special needs, public transportation can be a good option for providing built in exercise, helping the environment, and developing street smarts! https://www.treehugger.com/health/3-surprising-health-benefits-linked-public-transportation.html
5 tips for planning your OT session using public transportation:
Justify and truly understand the therapeutic relevance of the trip by connecting lessons with uniform terminology. http://agescota.com/ot/ut.pdf Endless opportunities here: Visually scanning schedule for times and bus routes, time management skills and strategies for timing the walk to the stop and getting back to the stop on time, filtering auditory and visual distractions when on the bus to locate landmarks/destination, and activity tolerance.
- Trips in the community can be graded based on age and goals for the trip. For younger students counting coins, crossing the street, and visually scanning the environment for landmarks. For older students, loading a bicycle onto the rack mechanism, planning for single or multiple transfers, reading a map, allowing enough time for the older student to miss a stop and safely problem solve the way back with supervision and support.
- Review safety, expectations, etiquette, and the notable differences between riding a school bus and public bus. Adding soft skill development is an added bonus when using public transportation. Waiting for others to exit the bus before getting on, giving up a seat for an elderly passenger, moving to make accommodations to secure a wheelchair (there may be several seats in the front that need to be raised to make room for wheelchairs). Have money, student ID’s, and reduced-fare passes ready.
- Plan for several pre-trip sessions to prepare for the big day to discuss things to expect, plan the trip, print schedules.
- Take the extra time to give students money to carry and deposit, combining money management and fine motor skills.