School occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants are key contributors within the special education team. They support a student’s ability to participate in desired daily school activities or “occupations.” They help children to fulfill their role as students by supporting their academic achievement and promoting positive behaviors necessary for learning.
School occupational therapists (and occupational therapy assistants, under the supervision of the occupational therapist) support academic and non-academic outcomes, including social skills, math, reading and writing (i.e., literacy), behavior management, recess, participation in sports, self-help skills, prevocational/vocational participation, transportation, and more.
Occupational therapy services for students with special needs are determined through the IEP process. School-based occupational therapy is available for students who are eligible for special education. Occupational therapists complete evaluations and 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 the team to identify a student’s annual goals and determine the services, supports, modifications, and accommodations that are required for the student to achieve them, including addressing transition needs no later than 16 years of age.