School-based occupational and physical therapy are related services available for students eligible for special education as mandated by federal law. These services are provided only if required to help a child with a disability to benefit from his/her special education program.
Occupational therapists may be involved with a student in the areas of fine motor, writing, self-help, oral motor, sensory processing and access (positioning, adaptive/assistive devices).
Physical therapists may be involved with a student requiring assistance with mobility skills. This may include a student who is in a wheelchair, may need assistive devices to walk, does not have independent or safe mobility, cannot use the stairs or needs adaptive positioning equipment.
When the special education team determines that a student is having difficulty accessing the curriculum or achieving their goals related to one of these areas, the team may contact an occupational or physical therapist for information, suggestions or appropriate strategies and possible assessment.
Occupational and physical therapists work collaboratively with the student's IEP team and participate in screening, evaluation and program planning. Following an evaluation, the IEP team may determine that OT and/or PT is required for a student to support his or her annual goals or access their educational program. Interventions may include modifications or adaptations to classroom tools or activities, introduction of useful specialized tools or equipment, and participation in direct therapy services. All interventions are designed to help students succeed in their educational program.