School-Based Occupational Therapy
- The provision of school-based therapy is governed by federal and state laws. Therapy is a related service to special education and is provided only if the child needs therapy to function in the educational setting.
- In the school, the needs for therapy is determined by the IEP Team. Parents are a part of this team. The team determines the amount, frequency and duration of therapy — not the physician alone.
- Therapy may be provided individually or in small groups by a therapist or a therapist assistant. Intervention may or may not be provided directly with the child. Collaborating with educational staff to modify the child's environment and daily school activities is always a part of school therapy.
- Treatment techniques, such as heat/cold, electrical stimulation and biofeedback training are typically not provided.
- Therapy takes place where the child receives education. Appropriate intervention may be provided in classrooms, hallways, gyms, playgrounds, lunchrooms, bathrooms, or in a separate therapy room.
- The decision to discontinue therapy is made by the IEP Team. This may occur when the student no longer is eligible for special education, when other members of the IEP Team can provide necessary interventions, or when the child can perform school tasks without therapeutic intervention. There may still be a need for community-based services.
Example of Comprehensive Coordinated Services for School-Based Therapy
Judie is a 10-year-old child who lives in a rural community with her parents and three siblings. She has a cognitive disability and cerebral palsy. She receives special education. Part of the day she is in a regular classroom and part of the day in a self-contained classroom. She receives school-based occupational therapy and physical therapy. She also receives community-based occupational therapy and physical therapy.
An IEP goal for Judie is to independently complete classroom and homework assignments using adapted writing instruments.
The school occupational therapy treatment plan for Judie includes provision of weighted pencil and slantboard; environmental adaptations for seating/positioning in the classroom; collaboration with classroom teachers to develop assignment accommodations, prompts and routines, and the use of therapeutic techniques to improve eye-hand coordination and motor control in the trunk, arms and hands.