Welcome to Occupational Therapy at Prospect Ridge Academy
School Based Occupational Therapy Services
An occupational therapist is a trained health professional that uses purposeful, goal directed activities and task analysis to enable a child with a disability to benefit from their individualized education program (IEP).
Federal law mandates that occupational therapy (OT) in the school system be educationally relevant on the IEP. The focus of OT services in a school setting is to promote functional independence or participation within the educational environment. Educational OT services are those services developed by educational personnel and the family and authorized in a student's IEP. OT services may be delivered directly to the child, on behalf of the child (consultation with parents and teachers) or through modifications and support for school personnel that will be provided for the child (in-service training). The IEP team may determine that the student does not require occupational therapy through the educational program. OT services are not intended to satisfy the medical needs of a student and therefore may not meet the total therapy needs of the student. However, the student's family may wish to pursue therapy services outside the educational setting. The federal definition of occupational therapy as a related service, on the IEP, means services provided by a qualified occupational therapist; and includes-improving, developing or restoring functions impaired or lost through illness, injury, or deprivation; Improving ability to perform tasks for independent functioning if functions are impaired or lost; and preventing through early intervention, initial or further impairment or loss of function. [34 CFR 300.24(b) (5)]
Qualifications of a School Occupational Therapist
To work as an occupational therapist in Colorado's public schools, you must (a) maintain current certification by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT), (b) be registered as an occupational therapist with the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA), and (c) have a Special Services License through the Colorado Department of Education (CDE).
Responsibilities of a School Occupational Therapist
In a school setting the OT may be involved by facilitating any or all of the following areas that may interfere with a child's educational performance during the identification process for an eligibility category in Special Education:
- self-help skills (feeding, dressing, hygiene)
- fine, gross and visual motor skills
- sensory processing and visual processing skills
- positioning, functional mobility and transitions
- functional communication through alternative methods
- adaptive devices/equipment & using educational tools/toys
Possible Indicators for Occupational Therapy
- Poor hand use and tool use; extreme difficulty completing classroom activities requiring cutting, glue, manipulating small objects, pencil grasp, and handwriting
- Has excessive difficulty in learning new motor tasks
- Has difficulty with self-help skills necessary in the educational setting; feeding, toileting, hygiene managing fasteners and clothing.
- Unable to maintain proper position for learning and functional use of both hands
- Requires alternative means to accomplish functional activities; assistive technology
- Extreme difficulty with sensory processing to textures, touch, visual, auditory, olfactory, and movement that substantially impedes ability to access the educational plan.
Resourced from NYC Department of Education, Fall 2011
Common Factors that Influence the Effectiveness of Therapy
- Students age
- Disability (type, degree, complications); impact on safety and function in school
- Change in educational environment
- Transitioning to a new team
- Previous occupational therapy (rate of change)
- Other assessment and intervention results
- Previous IEP goals and objectives
- Parent/family or caregiver input
- Continuum of service options in school and community
Students recommended for occupational therapy services at various grade levels may require different forms of intervention. Younger students who typically demonstrate more potential for change may benefit from intense remediation of skills, while compensation via task and environmental modifications become more essential as the student gets older. Secondary students may have reached motoric capacity after a lengthy time period of service and may be considered for exit.
Colorado Department of Education Guidelines for Necessary Therapy Services
Colorado Department of Education (CDE guidelines)
Considerations for Grade Levels
Individualized Educational Plan (IEP)
Occupational Therapists are responsible for assessing students to determine eligibility for services, and completing relevant documentation in the following areas: evaluation results, strengths/needs, present levels of performance, service delivery, goals, and accommodations/modifications.
Progress towards therapy objectives stated on IEP is to be completed and sent home quarterly, in alliance with the objective target dates stated on the IEP.