Occupational Therapy

School Based Occupational Therapy

What is school based occupational therapy?

School based occupational therapy helps students facing physical, cognitive, or mental health challenges that affect their school performance, socialization, and health.  It is designed to enhance the students ability to function successfully in an educational environment.  Teachers and occupational therapists work collaboratively toward achievement of this goal.

Occupational therapists in the school system have expertise in the following: 

  • Conducting evaluations
  • Planning and implementing IEP goals and objectives
  • Recommending assistive devices for students who require alternate means to accomplish educationally related tasks
  • Providing adaptive positioning and seating materials
  • Offering prevocational/vocational training
  • Providing strategies to facilitate a students participation in an activity
  • Reducing barriers that limit student participation within the school environment

Occupational therapists work with:

  • Students to improve their performance in the school environment
  • Parents to help them support their childrens learning and participation in school
  • Paraprofessionals to support and uphold safety within the school environment
  • School staff to provide proper training with transfers and adaptive equipment

When conducting an evaluation/screening, occupational therapists assess all or some of the following areas:

  • Sitting within the classroom
  • Participation on the playground
  • Use of classroom materials
  • Bathroom skills
  • Self-feeding managing food setup and utensils
  • Behavior
  • Sensory integration and processing
  • Dressing and undressing
  • Managing adaptive equipment
  • Negotiating the school environment
  • Fine motor skills
  • Social participation
  • Play

When is occupational therapy not appropriate for school?

Students will not be eligible for school based therapy if their diagnosis does not impact performance in the school setting.  Temporary impairments usually do not make a student eligible for school-based occupational therapy, although the student may need occupational therapy in a medical setting.


(From www.aota.org and Occupational Therapy for Children, Jane Case-Smith, 2001).