Educational Occupational Therapy

  • Educational Occupational Therapy

    IDEA lists Occupational Therapy as related services that “may be required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education.” This definition has implications for school‐based OT as it differentiates between therapy support that is essential to helping a student perform within the context of his/her educational program (i.e. school‐based OT), and the more medical and rehabilitative support that does not relate directly to a student’s learning and school performance. SchoolBased OT/PT


    How does the process begin?

    • Teacher, parent/guardian or other involved person may request the school to consider an    observation.
    • An observation referral form is completed by CST member, IEP manager or classroom teacher.
    • Once the referral is received the occupational therapist will observe the child to determine the need for intervention/comprehensive evaluation.

    Who decides need for OT service?

    • The IEP Team which may include parents/guardians, teachers (regular and/or special education) administration, and other related service providers, decide the need for OT services to benefit from his/her educational program.
    • An OT evaluation or observation will also guide the determination for educational OT services.
    • A physician’s referral alone does not determine the provision of IEP driven OT services.


    What is the focus of therapy in the educational setting?

    • Therapy addresses the student’s access to the academic curriculum and other school functions and works toward the student’s independence and participation in school.


    Where does therapy occur?

    • To the extent possible, therapy is integrated and provided in the student’s most natural environment (e.g. classroom, lunchroom, specials, hallways and playground).


    How is occupational therapy delivered?

    • Services are delivered by the occupational therapist or certified occupational therapy assistant either individually or in a small group setting to best meet the needs of the student.
    • Therapy may also be delivered in consultation with classroom and/or school staff to address modifications and adaptations needed to assist the student in accessing and participating in their current educational program.
    • The occupational therapist will consider the needs of the student and his/her participation in classroom activities when determining the appropriate method and setting of service delivery. 

    Adapted from Holahan, L., Ray, L. (2008). Educational and Clinical Models of Service Delivery, North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, Exceptional Children Division.

Contact Us