Education: Occupational Therapy (IEP Service)


Occupational Therapy (IEP Service)

Occupational therapy in the school system seeks to promote a student’s ability to participate in desired and required daily school occupations (activities that are meaningful and purposeful, such as completing math assignment, reading a book, recess, navigating activities in physical education, drawing in art class). Occupational therapy supports academic and non-academic outcomes, including both curricular and extracurricular activities, using a student’s strengths and promoting inclusion, accessibility, and Universal Design for learning.

How does Occupational Therapy at school help the person with a disability or family support system?

OT practitioners are key contributors to the educational team, collaborating with partners to promote mental and physical health. They conduct activity and environmental analysis to make recommendations to improve accessibility and participation, reduce barriers that limit student
participation, provide assistive technology to promote learning and success, help to identify goals and relevant instructional activities for success in classroom and school environment, and prepare students for successful transition to post-high school employment, independent living, and/or additional education.

How can a parent/caregiver gain access to this service?

Students who are eligible are determined through the IEP process in the schools. The OT will complete assessments within the evaluation process and work with the other members of the school team to identify what is needed for the student. If the student does not qualify under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), but has a disability affecting participation in school, they may be eligible for OT services through Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and/or the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Recommended websites, YouTube videos, books on this topic: Occupational Therapy in School Settings: Click Here for a fact sheet. Click Here for more information on OT in school. What Parents Need to Know About School-Based Occupational Therapy: Click Here for more information. OT in Schools. Click Here for a Q & A. What you need to know about IDEA. Click Here for a webpage on IDEA.

Occupational Therapists in the Elementary School Setting

Questions or observations recommended for parents to investigate when discussing OT at school?

  • Share information about what your child does at home, share concerns that you have
  • Find out what you can do to help the student at home
  • Establish a line of communication that works for you to collaborate and obtain information about progress.
  • It is helpful to get to know your student’s OT and other members of the team.


Written by: Nicole Quint, Dr.OT, OTR/L[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]