24 episodes

This podcast is for school-based occupational therapists and other educators who are invested in creating a more inclusive world for their students.

OT for Inclusive Occupations: Stories of Not Just Being Invited to the Party but Dancing Savitha Sundar

    • Education
    • 4.9 • 24 Ratings

This podcast is for school-based occupational therapists and other educators who are invested in creating a more inclusive world for their students.

    The Inclusive Education Roadmap- Part 2- Dr. Deborah Taub

    The Inclusive Education Roadmap- Part 2- Dr. Deborah Taub

    In the second part of the two-part series on the Inclusive Education Roadmap (IER) by the TIES center, Dr. Debbie Taub delves deeper into the “how” of the IER.
    Dr. Deborah Taub, Ph.D., is the owner of OTL Education Solutions, LLC. She provides research and professional development assistance to states, territories, and other entities working to develop and sustain best practices for students with disabilities.  She has assisted states in building and evaluating systemic programs, especially around issues of inclusive practice for students with complex instructional needs. Her work is informed by her experiences as a classroom teacher, educational researcher, systems-change expert, and parent to three neurodiverse children. She has experience building curricula that are universally designed and accessible for all. She has helped schools and districts meet state and federal requirements through teacher and student-centered reform and supporting educators as they make grade-level content accessible for students with complex needs. She has contributed journal articles, book chapters, and numerous professional development trainings to the field of educating children with complex needs and has presented internationally.
    Some Key Takeaways

    Core tenets of what makes a system truly inclusive. Five assumptions: (1) “All Means All” Students means “All students,” which includes students with significant cognitive disabilities (explicitly thinking about them) (2) Placement means placement in the same grade level general education classroom and other inclusive settings in neighborhood schools (3) Student-centered, strengths-based approaches to inclusive education (4) Specially designed instruction occurs within general education setting (5) Barriers to inclusive education exist within systems and environments and not within students.

    For sustainable systems change, a team of people who have the power to make those changes need to be working together.

    Formative Assessments are important to make sure we aren’t presuming a lack of competence in our students.

    We want to push away from labeling our students, and yet to avail services, our systems require our kids to have a disability. If we are all on this neurodiverse spectrum, what does it mean in terms of availing those supports? Discussion on definitions of students with Extensive Support Needs. 

    Two main indicators of successful transition to adulthood for students with disabilities- Prior job experience and inclusion.

    School-based occupational therapists’ expertise in adapting anything can used to enable inclusive education. Need for more collaboration between related service providers and educators.

    Using the Initiative Inventory, start contemplating what needs to be changed based on what is already in place. ( will be uploaded in this soon)

    When this wonderful leader leaves, how do we still keep this going?

    Dr. Taub’s personal dreams of how we would have changed in 10 years.

    ⁠⁠The TIES Center's Inclusive Education Roadmap⁠⁠- https://publications.ici.umn.edu/ties/ties-ier-rise/introduction
    Contact Dr. Deborah Taub at DrDTaub@gmail.com
    Check out our website- www.inclusiveoccupations.com 
    Helpful Resources Shared by Dr. Taub:
    Initiative Inventory Process
    Initiative Inventory
    Article- Implementation Science and Practice in the Education Sector
    Podcast transcript with audio available at⁠ Otter. ai (https://otter.ai/u/t94IJO3QcxsxiLzKRCO8jqv_G2A?utm_source=copy_url)


    Send in a voice message: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/inclusiveoccupations/message

    • 55 min
    The Inclusive Education Roadmap- Part 1- Dr. Diane Ryndak

    The Inclusive Education Roadmap- Part 1- Dr. Diane Ryndak

    In this first part of the two-part series on the Inclusive Education Roadmap (IER) by the TIES center, Dr. Diane Ryndak gives us a general overview of the work done for sustainable systemic change in inclusive education at the state, district, and school. After getting together a diverse Equitable Inclusive Leadership Team (EILT), the second step of the Inclusive Education Roadmap is called RISE (Reflecting on Inclusive Systems of Support). The school Leadership Team is led to deeply reflect and engage in critical discussions about their system's current use of inclusive educational practices for all students, including students with significant cognitive disabilities.

    "Systems change is not quick and easy," Dr. Ryndak shares. "We are still doing what we did decades ago." Several easy-to-use tools for implementing inclusive education were identified in their extensive research, but they have not been effective in implementing sustainable change. The IER is a long process based on implementation science. "We are looking at a five to seven-year process." She says.

    Dr.Ryndak is a Professor of Specialized Education Services at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. Her lifelong career is focused on inclusive education and access to the general curriculum for students with extensive support needs, student outcomes achieved by inclusive services, preservice teacher preparation, and technical assistance for sustainable school reform efforts related to inclusive education.

    ⁠The TIES Center's Inclusive Education Roadmap⁠- https://publications.ici.umn.edu/ties/ties-ier-rise/introduction

    Contact Dr. Diane Ryndak at dlryndak@uncg.edu. 

    Check out our website- www.inclusiveoccupations.com

    Podcast transcript with audio available at Otter. ai


    Send in a voice message: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/inclusiveoccupations/message

    • 55 min
    Autism Friendly Venues in Dallas- Dr. Tina Fletcher

    Autism Friendly Venues in Dallas- Dr. Tina Fletcher

    Dr. Tina Flecher worked as a small-town school OT for 25 years. While working as an OT in schools in rural Texas, she pursued her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in fine arts and sculpture. She then went on to get her educational doctorate. She is a Texas Woman’s University professor on the verge of retirement.
    Dr. Fletcher understood the lived experiences of her students with disabilities in her community. This, in addition to her family ties with disability and her love for art and education, lead her to initiate autism-friendly events in the community so kids with disabilities can enjoy museums, zoos, and other venues in a friendly and accessible environment. What began at the Dallas Museum of Arts soon spread to other sites, including the Dallas Arboretum, Dallas Zoo, Nasher Sculpture Center, The Frontiers of Flight Museum, and the Erik Johnson Library. She attributes the success of her work to her many OT students who plan the activities and take the lead in educating parents about managing autism-related challenges.
    In 2020, her second initiative, Planning for Autism in Communities and Schools, was funded by the Innovative Autism Treatment Models grant from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Researchers from Texas Woman’s University School of Occupational Therapy worked alongside community organizations and stakeholders to create, build, pilot, implement, and revise the many components of this project.

    The Programs Discussed in This Episode
    Sensory Days Dallas- https://sensorydaysdallas.com/
    Planning for Autism- https://planningforautism.com/about/

    Publications by Dr. Fletcher Related to This Episode
    The sensory totes programme: sensory-friendly autism program innovations designed to meet COVID-19 challenges

    Strategies and Guidelines for Sensory Havens in Sensory and Autism-Friendly Events

    Sensory spaces on wheels: Meeting neurodiverse community members where they are.

    Dr. Fletcher's Book- Success on the Spectrum: Practical Strategies for Engaging Neurodiverse Audiences in Arts and Cultural Organizations Paperback – February 6, 2024

    Check out the Inclusive Occupations website- www.inclusiveoccupations.com
    Podcast transcript with audio available at Otter. ai- ​https://otter.ai/u/So6ndnV3wnJ82pn2tF_9qrLCY4E?utm_source=copy_url


    Send in a voice message: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/inclusiveoccupations/message

    • 58 min
    My Possibilities - Michael Thomas MBA, CEO

    My Possibilities - Michael Thomas MBA, CEO

    In this episode, Michael Thomas, Executive Director of My Possibilities, a 501(c)(3) for cause organization serving adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) in the Dallas Metroplex area, TX, shares how the organization enables a path towards inclusion for our HIPsters (Hugely Important People). My Possibilities is the first full-day, full-year educational program of its kind in Collin County.
    Having exclusively served this community all his career as a CEO, Michael offers his thoughts and insights on several areas related to inclusion, higher education, sheltered workshops, job placements, and so on. He has some sound advice for school educators and families of individuals with disabilities before their children reach adulthood. Michael eloquently answers my (somewhat challenging) questions from a place of honesty and vulnerability and shares his future for My Possibilities. We end with some fun facts about Michael, a few bites of wisdom, and some good food recommendations for Dallas visitors!
    * The community event I mention about is “Autism Awareness” organized by Nanban Foundation- https://nanbanfoundation.org/ Check out My Possibilities
    Some Interesting Interviews and Talks by Michael Thomas:
    Tedx Plano- Beyond Disabilities
    Talent Development for Adults with Disabilities - Big Ideas in a Small Car EP 4
    Interview with Scott Miller at Create, Build, and Manage Daily Show on Biz.TV
    Interview on The Next Level Show
    Michael Thomas can be contacted via email at mthomas@mptx.org

    Podcast transcript with audio and takeaways available at Otter. ai- https://otter.ai/u/n9lUWwuKTy3qdezqL2hu5xVgYIU?utm_source=copy_url

    Podcast website- ⁠www.inclusiveoccupations.com


    Send in a voice message: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/inclusiveoccupations/message

    • 50 min
    Why "All Means All" Has Never Included "Them"- Dr. Cheryl Jorgenson

    Why "All Means All" Has Never Included "Them"- Dr. Cheryl Jorgenson

    In this episode, Dr. Cheryl Jorgenson responds to this question: "why have the numbers not changed in the past ten years when it comes to inclusive placements for students with extensive support needs?". Are decisions to place students with complex needs in lesser restrictive environments made by genuinely considering what is best for our students, or do we make decisions based on what we, educators and related service providers, are good at? Do school-based OTPs understand the educational system and our place in supporting inclusive placements? Listen on to learn more. This is a very insightful conversation with Dr. Jorgenson, a trailblazer in inclusive education.

    Click ⁠here⁠ for the full Biography of Dr. Jorgenson.

    Resources Shared in this Episode:
    1. Supplementary Aids and services consideration Toolkit from Patten.net: https://www.pattan.net/supports/inclusive-practices/supplementary-aids-and-services-consideration-tool
    2. A presentation by Dr. Gretchen Hanser- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2nkRllUw1U

    3. Article by Mathew Brock (2018) - Trends in the Educational Placement of Students With Intellectual Disability in the United States Over the Past 40 Years

    4. Dr. Paula Kluth- https://www.paulakluth.com/
    5. Considerations in Placement Decisions for Students With Extensive Support Needs: An Analysis of LRE Statements- https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1540796918825479

    A few additional resources:
    1. Dr. Jorgenson's Keynote Presentation at the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FB8b1r7YOI8
    2. Great courses on facilitating inclusive education for students with complex support needs from TX CAN network- https://txcan.tea.texas.gov/courses
    3. Dr. Jorgenson's Interview on Think Inclusive Podcast- https://anchor.fm/think-inclusive/episodes/Cheryl-Jorgensen--Waiting-for-Inclusive-Education-e1okmq/a-a498t6

    Podcast transcripts with audio are available at https://otter.ai/u/RE5brYN4fjyza0_ErTxpBNx0Ojg?utm_source=copy_url
    Podcast website- www.inclusiveoccupations.com


    Send in a voice message: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/inclusiveoccupations/message

    • 45 min
    Related Service Providers Enabling Inclusivity- Carol Conway OTR/L & Rebecca Moskovitz SLP

    Related Service Providers Enabling Inclusivity- Carol Conway OTR/L & Rebecca Moskovitz SLP

    Carol Conway, occupational therapist, and Becca Moskovitz, speech and language pathologist at Hudson School District, Ohio, recognized how peers could be powerful agents of inclusion in their school community. They lead the "Buddies program" in their elementary school, which grew and evolved over 12 years, creating opportunities for students with complex access needs and their peers to develop authentic relationships and flourish. In their interview, Carol and Becca share how this was the "best part" of their job.  This interview underlines that it takes intentional efforts on our part as educators and related service providers to facilitate relationships between students with extensive support needs and their peers. Their insights are undoubtedly an inspiration for us therapists to go beyond traditional roles to support the creation of rich environments for social participation for the students we serve. 

    Podcast transcripts with audio available at  https://otter.ai/u/qc-jx8g_Uj3YtmKbU97T2Ifx6sQ?utm_source=copy_url


    Send in a voice message: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/inclusiveoccupations/message

    • 49 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
24 Ratings

24 Ratings

@kate8 ,

Worthwhile listen

Savitha is an inspiration. I had the privilege of learning from her as an OT student some years ago. Savitha reminds us to strive to support meaningful occupations and focus on creating inclusive environments within school and in the community for our students to thrive. This is a wonderful podcast and I appreciate the opportunity to learn from Savitha and her guests.

Laura1324 ,

Great podcast!

I worked with Savitha in a school district. She is passionate and incredibly innovative. She is a role model for school occupational therapists, and other special education and even general education school personnel. This is a great podcast for all school OTs to listen to

scmountains ,


I finish each of these podcasts inspired to go out and change the world of inclusive practices! A must listen for school based OTs Special Education teachers and school administrators!

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