MEBANE, NC (WGHP) — The fourth graders in Olivia Crowe’s class at Audrey Garrett Elementary School in Mebane are getting ready for their end-of-grade tests. Among them is Asher McElfresh.

He is a student like any other in the class except he has cerebral palsy and sometimes needs a little help to do certain tasks. That’s where occupational therapist Kimberly Massey comes in.

“He is a joy because he embraces all opportunities to learn and grow and be his best self,” Massey said.

She is there to help Asher see he can do things he may not have thought he could.

“I have a guideline, which is the individual education plan,” she said. “So I have goals that I specifically work on and target with each student to help them, accomplish their role as a student. It could be just managing their materials at their desk. It can be anything as far as keyboarding, writing and accessing their curriculum. So, for students with disabilities, sometimes I have to adapt tools to make items more accessible for them so that they can be independent. But the IEP guides are the rule in the classroom setting.”

Sometimes that means getting creative, like making an adaptive pair of scissors that Asher can use when cutting paper is required in his classwork.

“Part of our requirements in occupational therapy school was to take a sculpture class,” says Massey. “You know, you have to be able to manipulate materials, think about cost-effectiveness, what is going to be acceptable to the student to look good because they want to look good in front of their peers. And just to make the tool work, to do its job to help the student do their job.”

According to Asher’s teacher, it makes a huge difference.

“It really helps us to give us tools and things so that he can participate in everything in the classroom. You know, I don’t always know all the tools that will help with specific things. So she’s a good resource to have to help and provide us with those tools, show us how to use them, help him learn how to use them so that he can do everything in the classroom that everybody else does, just with some extra help,” says Crowe.

She says sometimes that help comes from his friends in the class. “They love to help Asher with anything and everything they can. I mean, they’ll jump up sometimes and come and help him, or in PE they are all about helping him in any way they can and just helping him to be like everybody else. And they just act normal about it. Like, it’s not different. It’s just normal,” she says. “He’s learning, he’s growing, he’s doing all things the fourth grader does.”

And that’s exactly what everyone wants to hear, especially Massey.

“My heart wants to explode because it is so rewarding to see them succeed. And that is the job of an occupational therapist. To help people do their jobs of everyday living. And if I can do that, then I feel out of this world happy.”