SSPS:Educationally Relevant Occupational and Physical Therapy Services

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IDEA requires provision of related services, including occupational and physical therapy (OT/PT) in the school setting. OT and PT are related services provided to assist a student in his/her educational program. The student must have a recognized disability or disorder, which adversely affects educational performance, which includes developmental, academic and functional skills. For a related service to be included in the individual educational plan (IEP), the team must determine that the student requires that service to benefit from special education (IDEA, 2004.)

Within the school environment, all OT and PT services are provided as a support to enhance the student’s ability to access his/her educational program. When determining a need for the occupational therapy or physical therapy service, the IEP team must consider the student’s IEP goals and objectives, the support needed to achieve these goals, and the recommendations made by the occupational or physical therapist.

It is important to realize that if a student has an identifiable therapy need, which does not prevent the student from accessing or progressing in his/her educational program, then school-based therapy is not needed. Although the student may have a disability that required private/outside therapy, the student may not need school-based therapy services to benefit from special education. The IEP team determines if the expertise of a therapist is necessary for the student to attain annual IEP goals.