Teachers’ experiences with occupational therapy multi-tiered systems support: A qualitative study



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School-based occupational therapists are tasked with participating in multi-tiered systems support (MTSS) services to all students, including general education students who may be at risk for school failure. Yet, there is little information in the literature on how school-based therapists achieve this and the perceptions of teachers who engage with occupational therapists providing service within the MTSS framework. The purpose of this study is to understand the experiences of elementary public-school teachers who are working with occupational therapists that provide support within an MTSS framework. A qualitative study with a transcendental phenomenological approach was employed to answer the research question. The occupational adaptation theoretical framework guided sub-questions for this study. The researcher aligned these sub-questions to relative mastery, which occurs when a sense of efficiency, effectiveness, and satisfaction occur (Schkade & Schultz, 1992). Teacher participants were recruited through purposeful sampling and snowball sampling techniques. Thirteen teachers from four different states of the United States participated in this study. Their years of teaching experience ranged from 3 to 21 years. Data sources included verbatim transcribed interviews, survey information, and artifacts. Moustakas (1994) structured approach for data analysis was utilized and resulted in a composite textural, structural description of the teachers’ experiences. Results showed that teachers expressed positive feelings when describing their experiences with occupational therapists who provide service through an MTSS framework. In this study, teachers were participating with occupational therapists through the MTSS framework frequently, ongoing, informally, through whole-class instruction and valued the knowledge gained from occupational therapists. Some barriers identified by the teachers were a lack of MTSS documentation, a lack of understanding of school-based occupational therapists' scope and role, and their need for more occupational therapy services within the MTSS framework. In conclusion, teachers described their experiences with occupational therapy MTSS as satisfactory, efficient, and effective.



School-based occupational therapy, Multi-tiered system support, Response to intervention, Teachers' experiences