Definition of a School Based Occupational and Physical Therapists:
Occupational and Physical therapists are health professionals who are trained to work in a variety of settings. In the school setting, Federal Law IDEA mandates that occupational therapy (OT) and physical therapy (PT) in the school system must be educationally relevant. The school OTs and PTs use task analysis and purposeful, goal directed activities to support children with special needs, to fully benefit from their individualized education program (IEP). Occupational therapists use their unique expertise to help children access their highest potential in their occupational role as students. They are trained to support academic and life skills in the areas of fine and gross motor development, sensory processing, social skills, handwriting, self-help skills, prevocational/vocational preparation and assistive technology. Physical therapists often work closely with the occupational therapist; their services complement eachother. Physical therapists focus on gross motor skills like balance, walking, trunk strength, and general movement. They also train the team members in use of equipment and adaptations to activities to insure a students' participation in a school environment. Occupational and Physical therapists work as part of a team including special and general educators, parents and community resources. Services may be delivered directly to the child or on behalf of the child (consultation with parents and teachers). Utilizing the response to intervention model (RTI) modifications, and support for school personnel, are also provided based on individual student need.