Occupational and Physical Therapists, as related service providers to Special Education, work closely with school staff to help remove barriers that might hinder students’ overall academic success. After difficulties are initially identified by the teacher or other member of the educational team, occupational and physical therapists consult and/or evaluate students’ physical performance in the school environment to make recommendations and/or determine if services are necessary. The appropriate type and amount of services to be delivered are then determined based on individual student need, and measurable goals and objectives are set in collaboration with the educational team. The team works together to assist students in meeting these goals, but different techniques or methods are utilized by each professional.
Occupational Therapy focuses on students’ performance in the areas of hand skills, self-care, social skills, play/leisure skills and prevocational/vocational participation. Occupational therapists are instrumental in helping teachers understand the sensorimotor aspects of school activities such as writing, eating, and handling materials, in order to address problems in those areas.
Physical Therapy assists students in developing functional mobility, positioning for learning, and gross motor skills that are relevant to all areas the school setting, including the classroom, hallway, restroom, cafeteria, playground, and school bus. School-based physical therapists consult with physicians, clinic-based physical therapists, and/or medical equipment providers to effectively communicate students’ medical needs with school staff, as well as communicate their educational needs with medical staff.