A MESSAGE FROM THE STATE SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION
Occupational therapists and physical therapists in California public schools are uniquely positioned to build self-determination and independence – the keys to academic success for children with cognitive, physical, or emotional disability. The work closely with students and their families to uncover hidden potential, build skills and abilities, understand and adapt to barriers, and capitalize on real-world supports in order to ensure that students with special needs have the optimal opportunities to pursue their lifetime goals.
OCCUPATIONAL AND PHYSICAL THERAPY IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS
In school-based practice, OTs and PTs support a child’s ability to gain access to and make progress in the school curriculum.
OTs are professionals whose purpose in a public school setting is to support a child’s engagement and participation in daily occupations, which include activities of daily living, education, prevocational work, play, rest, leisure, and social participation (American Occupational Therapy Association 2008).
PTs are health professionals whose purpose in a public school is to correct, facilitate, or adapt the child’s functional performance in motor control and coordination, posture and balance, functional mobility, accessibility, and use of assistive devices.
OTs and PTs have unique roles in the educational setting in working both on remediation (e.g., improving sensory and motor foundations of learning and behavior) and compensation (e.g., modifying the environment, tools or task) to help a child succeed at school.
INDIVIDUALIZED EDUCATION PLAN (IEP)
A student found eligible for special education under one of the 13 disabling conditions, who presents with needs that cannot be met by the general education and special education teachers may be eligible for related services. OT and PT are “related services” as defined by IDEA 2004 as “…such developmental, corrective, or supportive services as are required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education…(34 CFR §300.34(a)).
A child identified as having a disability under Section 504, but not under the IDEA, and who is found to need either OT or PT services as a reasonable accommodation to the general education program may receive the services a defined in the 504 plan.
California Children’s Services (CCS) is responsible for the provision of medically necessary OT and PT when the child is eligible by medical diagnosis and when the related services is specified in the child’s IEP.