Occupational and physical therapists provide services that includes improving, developing or restoring functions impaired or lost through illness, injury, or deprivation, improving ability to perform tasks for independent functioning, if functions are impaired or lost, and preventing, through early intervention, further impairment or loss of function.
Occupational therapists focus on fine motor skills, self help, and adaptive skills. Physical therapists focus on gross motor skills and mobility. Occupational therapy may be needed, for example, to acquire appropriate eating utensils for a child, or teach classroom personnel how to use the equipment, or to teach classroom staff how to adjust a lap board for a student who uses the lap board for writing activities. Physical therapy may be needed, for example, to teach transfers from a wheelchair to a chair or restroom facilities.
Occupational therapy and physical therapy are related services that may be required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from their education. These services are to provide a child with equal opportunity that would not exist without therapy service and not merely maximization of a child’s potential. Occupational therapists and physical therapists are trained to provide many types of developmental and rehabilitative services.
Legal mandates require the school-based therapist to deliver only those services that are necessary to assist students to benefit from their educational programs. The focus of school based therapy depends on which IEP goals therapy will be supporting. The need for therapy is based the choice of educational goals and whether the expertise of OT or PT is needed to help the student achieve those goals. Some goals may be academic while other goals will focus on student function or the student’s participation and success in the school environment.