Chatham University OTD Student Chooses Watson for Capstone Project Research

At the Watson Institute, students with special needs receive individualized special education and supportive services tailored to meet their unique needs. An important part of providing specialized services is having experienced and knowledgeable staff.

In addition to providing professional development opportunities for our own employees, Watson prides itself on being a resource to local university students pursuing career pathways in special education, occupational, speech, and physical therapy, as well as counseling and behavioral health.

Not only do local university students benefit from the opportunity to learn from and work with experienced professionals at the Watson Institute, but our staff get the chance to learn from the students and stay up-to-date on the latest research and treatment techniques being taught in their field.

Watson Institute Partners with Chatham University

This school year, the Watson Institute is hosting Mia D’Antonio, an Occupational Therapy Doctoral (OTD) student at Chatham University. Mia will be at the Watson Institute’s Education Center Sewickley through the spring to conduct research, collect and analyze data, and create resources and classroom materials as part of her Capstone project.

After OTD students complete their level 2 field work, they are required to complete a research-driven project (Capstone) that exhibits their ability to apply the knowledge and skills they’ve learned throughout their schooling. Students have the freedom to choose a research topic exploring their personal interests and can request their preferred research locations for placement.

Mia was a classroom teacher’s aide at the Education Center Sewickley in the months between her undergraduate graduation and the start of her graduate level studies. So when the opportunity arose to select a location to complete her Capstone project, the Watson Institute was at the top of her list!

Mia’s Capstone project is centered on sensory processing and integration techniques for students with special needs. Sensory processing impacts how individuals understand and interact with the world around them. Students with special needs often have unique sensory processing needs that impact their fine motor planning, balance, body movements, as well as their sensitivity to sights, sounds, and smells.

occupational therapist holding the hand of a student while they practice balancing

Throughout the spring, Mia will be working alongside Lauren Roebuck, MS, OTR/L, a seasoned Occupational Therapist at the Watson Institute to complete her research into sensory integration techniques. Through a combination of hands-on casework with students and observations of Lauren and other therapists at Watson, Mia will gather the feedback and research necessary to create training modules for Watson Institute classroom staff (teachers and classroom aides) as well as classroom materials and handouts.

Mia’s goal is to help classroom staff gain competence and feel confident in using sensory processing techniques in day-to-day classroom routines and activities with their students, further reinforcing the progress students make while working with therapists.

Mia is “excited to make a difference with the kids and the staff” through her work at Watson!

Learn more about the Watson Institute’s schools for students with special needs.