Following a developmental evaluation the Case Conference Committee will determine a primary disability. Occupational therapy may be recommended as a related service to children receiving special education services.
Occupational therapists are part of the education team within the school district. The profession of occupational therapy is concerned with a person’s ability to participate in daily life activities or “occupations”. A child’s primary occupations are play and school. In the school setting, occupational therapists use their expertise to help children to be prepared for and perform important learning and school related activities and to fulfill their role as students.
Occupational therapy is a related service. A student must be receiving special education services in order to be considered eligible for related services. Related services are services which are necessary in order to benefit a child in an educational setting. Related services must be directly related to the child’s ability to be successful in the recommended special education program.
(511 IAC 7-3-44). The purpose of occupational therapy in the school setting is to support a child’s educational goals as defined by his/her Individualized Educational Plan.
Occupational therapists can provide services directly, integrated or on a consultation basis. Occupational therapists work collaboratively with teachers, paraprofessional staff and /or parents to facilitate a child’s performance in a particular need area.
Some of the areas addressed by OT:
- Fine Motor Skills (being able to appropriately use classroom tools using a variety of grasps/hand manipulation (e.g. scissors, pencils, paintbrushes, glue sticks, etc)
- Visual-Motor Skills (copying prewriting shapes needed for letter formation, cutting skills, replicating block designs, doing mazes and puzzles, etc.)
- Self-Help Skills (as it relates to the educational setting: may include, manipulation of fasteners, managing belongings, self-feeding skills, etc.)
- Sensorimotor Abilities (Student’s ability to process sensory information. Difficulties with sensory processing must impact a student’s ability to function in the educational setting.)
- Sensory areas may include: tactile (touch), proprioceptive (received from joints and muscles and provides the body with information regarding where the body is in space and where body parts are in relation to one another), vestibular (movement), auditory, oral and visual.