The Ohio Department of Education defines Occupational Therapy as a “Related Service.” As such, the mission is to provide such developmental, corrective and other supportive services as are identified on a child’s IEP and required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from Special Education.
- “Occupational Therapy” means services provided by a qualified occupational therapist, and 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, initial or further impairment or loss of function.
OCCUPATIONAL THERAPISTS - PART OF THE EDUCATION TEAM
The profession of occupational therapy (OT) is concerned with a person’s ability to 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. In this setting, OTs support academic and non-academic outcomes including social skills, math, reading, writing, recess, participation in sports, self-help skills, prevocational/vocational participation and more. Additionally, they play a critical role in training parents, other staff members, and caregivers regarding educating students with diverse learning needs.
OCCUPATIONAL THERAPISTS BRING SPECIFIC KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERTISE TO THE EDUCATIONAL TEAM TO APPROPRIATELY ADDRESS STUDENT NEEDS.
Occupational Therapists know how to
- Observe a student engaging in an activity and provide strategies to facilitate the student’s full participation;
- Reduce barriers that limit student participation within the school environment;
- Utilize assistive technology to support student success;
- Help plan relevant instructional activities for ongoing implementation in the classroom
OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY (OT) SERVICES FOR STUDENTS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS ARE DETERMINED THOUGH THE IEP PROCESS.
School-based OT is available for students who are eligible for special education services. OTs 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 OT is needed for a student in order to meet his or her annual goals, then OT should be included in the student’s IEP.