Occupational Therapy

School Based Occupational Therapy

School based occupational therapists are partof the student’s specific special education team. In the schools, occupationaltherapist offer distinctive knowledge and support to prepare and facilitate astudent’s performance and participation in school related activities.   In this setting, occupational therapistswork with students with disabilities, ages 3-21, to support academic andnon-academic outcomes.

School based occupational therapy servicesare determined through a student’s IEP process, following the completion of anevaluation conducted by a school based occupational therapist. School based OTis available to students who are a part of special education. Through theevaluation process, OTs complete assessments and collaborate with the studentsspecific educational team to assist in determining the needs and performancewithin their educational setting.  Thetype and frequency of services are determined by the child’s unique educationalteam reflecting what is required for the student to receive a free appropriatepublic education in the least restrictive environment. 


Educationalbased occupational therapist address skills such as but not limited to,  social skills, writing (i.e., literacy),behavior management, recess, participation in sports, self-help skills,prevocational/vocational participation, and more.

 The American Occupational Therapy Association(AOTA) lists the specific responsibilities of educational based occupationaltherapist:

•observe a student engaging in an activity and provide strategies to facilitatethe student’s full participation;

•reduce barriers that limit student participation within the school environment;

•use assistive technology to support student success;

•support the needs of students with significant challenges, such as by helpingto determine methodsfor alternate assessment;

•help identify long-term goals for appropriate post-school outcomes;

•help plan relevant instructional activities for ongoing implementation in theclassroom; and

• assist students in preparing forsuccessful transition into appropriate post–high school employment, independentliving, and/or further education. 

AOTAstates: Occupational therapy practitioners collaborate with the education teamto address student needs. They work with a variety of people such as

•students to improve their performance in a variety of learning environments(e.g., playgrounds, classrooms,lunchrooms, bathrooms) and optimize their performance with adaptations/accommodations;

•parents to help them support their children’s learning and participation inschool;

•educators and other school support staff to plan and develop activities andenvironments that includeall students;

•paraeducators to support child success and promote safety within the schoolenvironment (e.g.,physical and behavioral assistance needs); and

•administrators to provide training for students, staff, and parents, as well asto recommend equipmentfor schools and ways to modify existing buildings and curriculum to allowaccess for all.