Occupation refers to activities that support the health, well-being and development of an individual. For children and youth, occupations are activities that enable them to learn and develop life skills, be creative and/ or derive enjoyment, and thrive as both a means and an end. (AOTA: Role of Occupational Therapy with Children and Youth). In the school setting occupational therapists support a child’s engagement and participation in daily occupations, which include activities of daily living, education, prevocational work, play, rest, leisure, and social participation (American Occupational Therapy Association 2008).
Description of Services
Occupational therapy in the school setting is a related service which provides assistance to students already in special education allowing them to benefit from specially designed educational programs. The occupational therapist supports the student’s ability to gain access to the general education curriculum in accordance with his/her Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and to function across all educational settings. Federal and state laws mandate that occupational therapy services provided in the schools are educationally relevant.*
According to TEA Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations Section 300.34 (c) (6)
Occupational Therapy Includes:
- Improving, developing, or restoring functions impaired or lost through illness, injury, or deprivation;
- Improving the ability to perform tasks for independent functioning when functions are impaired or lost; and
- Preventing, through early intervention; Initial or further impairment or loss or function.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (2004) identifies OT service providers in the schools as “Related Services” to provide supportive services as needed to enable a child to benefit from Special Education. IDEA 2004, Part B requires that a child must be found eligible for special education. Part B continues to state that it must be identified whether the general education teacher and special education teacher can meet the needs of the child who has been found eligible for special education (Sec 300.34) and if the child presents with additional needs that cannot be met by the teacher(s), then related services should be explored. Occupational Therapy services are provided when the IEP team designates such services as necessary for the child to meet goals and objectives or outcomes, and are often referred to as “educationally necessary”.
Occupational therapists in the schools work with students on skills which typically fall in the areas of fine motor, visual motor, self-help, and self-regulation needed to access the curriculum and/or the physical environment.
*20 U.S.C. §§ 1401, 1414, 7801; 34 C.F.R. Part 300; Texas Education Code; 19 T.A.C. Chapter 89
- Multisensory handwriting and keyboarding programs
- Therapeutic activities for fine motor development
- Free online keyboarding exercise
- Parent information resource
- Handwriting apps for development of proper letter formation:
- Letter School; Writing Wizard; HandWritingWithoutTears
- Visual Schedule app: Choice Works