DOI: 10.1111/bld.12583 ISSN: 1354-4187

Breaking new ground? An analysis of the use of embedded occupational therapy in a postsecondary education programme for students with intellectual disabilities

Barbara Ringwood, Jennifer Banks, Michael Shevlin
  • Pediatrics
  • Pshychiatric Mental Health



Despite the growing diversity among students in higher education, nonprogression to postsecondary education persists for many students with intellectual disabilities with low completion rates for those who do progress. Research suggests that occupational therapy (OT) support can be extremely beneficial in assisting students. Less is known however about the impact of OT in higher education. This study aims to examine the use of OT embedded in a postsecondary programme for students with intellectual disabilities.


This study uses a scoping review of relevant literature and a qualitative analysis of OT working in a higher education programme specifically designed for students with intellectual disabilities in Ireland.


This paper highlights how the OT support within this programme uses a four‐fold collaborative approach supporting students, staff, business partners and wider organisational structures in the university.


The analysis highlights the opportunities for collaboration between OT and curriculum developers, teaching and ancillary staff and students in higher education along with the significant OT input into work placements and internships with business partner mentors. Challenges in educating stakeholders to understand OT in the higher education environment would suggest a substantial need for further research.

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