Education: Physical Therapy (IEP Service)


What is school-based physical therapy?

The Individuals with Disability Education Act (IDEA) Part B mandates special education for all children 3-21 with a disability that interferes with educational performance. Children who are eligible for special education under this law receive an individualized education program (IEP). Physical therapy is one of the related services that can be provided within a child’s IEP, and is determined by the child’s specific educational needs. A related service is a supportive service required for a child with a disability to benefit from special education.

What is the service for?

School-based physical therapy services assist students in accessing the school environment, help adapt the environment to promote safety with mobility throughout the school environment, and minimize separation from peers due to mobility difficulties. School physical therapists
assist classroom teachers and other educational personnel in screening students who receive special education to determine if they qualify for physical therapy. They can also assist classroom teachers and other educational personnel in incorporating movement and activity into instruction for all children.

How does the service help the child with a disability or family support system?

Physical therapists in the school work closely with the child, family, teachers, and the rest of the IEP team to help a child reach their maximum potential to function independently and participate actively in the school environment in order to achieve their education-related goals.

How does a child gain access to this service?

Within the process of planning or updating a student’s IEP, the special education team may refer a student for a physical therapy (PT) evaluation if deemed appropriate. The physical therapy evaluation will determine a student’s eligibility for school-based physical therapy, and if eligible, it will be added to the IEP as a related service.

Recommended websites, YouTube videos, books on this topic: For a fact sheet on PT in schools Click Here U.S. Department of Education’s Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) website. Click Here for regulations information.



Pediatric APTA Organization Fact Sheets School Based PT:

Pediatric APTA Organization Fact Sheets Practitioner Choice:

Pediatric APTA Organization Fact Sheets Consumer Info:

Written by: Nicole Quint, Dr.OT, OTR/L and Melissa Tovin, PT, PhD, PCS[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]