Occupational Therapy (OT) is designed to help students participate in desired daily life activities or “occupations.” In the schools, occupational therapists use their unique expertise to help children to be prepared for and perform important learning and school related activities and to fulfill their role as students.
OT services are intended to improve a student’s ability to function in his/her educational program and may include the following:
- Self-help skills or adaptive living, such as eating and dressing
- Functional mobility, such as moving safely through school
- Positioning, such as sitting appropriately in class
- Sensory-motor processing, such as using the senses and muscles
- Fine motor performance, such as writing and cutting
- Gross motor performance, such as walking and athletic skills
- Life skills training/vocational skills
- Psychosocial adaptation
District 25 currently has seven occupational therapists supporting students across the District. Their duties include:
- Completion of evaluations as part of the IEP process
- Provision of therapy in pull-out and collaborative service models
- Provision of technical support staff regarding student needs, such as sensory diets, assistive technology, and adaptive methods
- Provision of input and consultation at RtI meetings
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 services. 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 other members of the education 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. When the 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.