Occupational Therapy Department - "Helping Students Achieve Thier Goals is at the Core of Our M

  • Occupational therapy services for students with special needs are determined through the IEP process.

    School-based occupational therapy is available for students who are eligible for special education. Occupational therapists complete assessments and work with other members of the school-based team to help determine what is needed for a student to receive a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment. They collaborate with the team to identify a student’s annual goals and determine the services, supports, modifications, and accommodations that are required for the student to achieve these goals, including addressing transition needs as early as 14 but no later than 16 years of age. When the individualized education program (IEP) team determines that occupational therapy is needed for a student in order to meet his or her annual goals, then occupational therapy should be included in the student’s IEP. In some instances, students whose disability affects their participation in school but who do not qualify under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), may be eligible to receive occupational therapy under other federal laws such as Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504) and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

    Occupational therapy practitioners help to promote healthy school climates that are conducive to learning.

    They offer other valuable services to meet the broader student and systemic needs by addressing students’ mental health needs and participating in other school-wide initiatives such as positive behavior supports, response to intervention (RtI), and Early Intervening activities to address student behavior and learning needs. In addition, occupational therapy practitioners are active participants in developing curriculums and programs, addressing school health and safety, identifying assessment accommodations and modifications required for accountability purposes, and developing violence prevention and other types of programs. In this capacity, occupational therapy practitioners also focus on supporting the needs of all students, including those without disabilities. For example, many schools use the occupational therapist’s knowledge and expertise to assist in curriculum development such as for handwriting and social skills, or to recommend modifications to or design of classroom environments or assignments that help all students access and participate in school (universal design for learning).