Occupational and physical therapy are two of the related services of special education mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA). There are several ways a student can receive occupational and physical therapy services in an educational setting. To receive services, students must have an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) or Section 504 Plan. School based therapy services strive to facilitate the students' potential for functional independence and participation in educational activities. This differs from the medical model of therapy services which focuses on medical needs. As related services, OT and PT services are provided if the therapists' expertise is needed to support the attainment of the identified IEP goals or Section 504 supports.
Occupational therapists work with students who are eligible for special education and have been identified with visual motor, fine motor, postural and/or motor needs, self-care and sensory processing deficits that significantly impact the student's ability to participate in their educational program.
Physical therapists work with students who are eligible for special education and have been identified with gross motor, functional mobility, strength/endurance, postural and/or positioning needs that significantly impact the students' ability to participate in their educational program.
Services are provided in the student's most natural and least restrictive environment. Services are delivered using a direct and consultation model.
School based OT and PT services are not intended to take the place of clinical therapy. Medical diagnoses or medical issues that do not interfere with a student's ability to access or participate in his/her educational program are not the focus of school therapy services.