Occupational Therapy (O.T.) in the school setting looks at certain skills and issues which may interfere with a child's educational performance such as hand function, oral motor function, visual motor and perceptual skills, sensory awareness/processing, self-care tasks, and pre-vocational skills. These areas can be addressed through a variety of intervention strategies, which may include direct therapy with the child, consultation with the teacher and paraprofessionals, modification of the environment, provision of adaptive equipment and staff training.
Occupational therapy is a "related service" to special education meaning that services must enhance or support educational goals as stated on the student's Individual Education Plan (IEP), and thus cannot be a stand-alone service. Best practice for O.T. is integrated therapy and collaboration with staff which occurs in the natural environments such as the cafeteria, playground, computer lab, classroom, etc. and eliminates the need for students to connect an activity learned one-on-one "down the hall" to the classroom task they need help with.
Qualifications: Occupational Therapists are health care professionals with college degrees ranging from a Bachelor level to the PhD/Doctoral level. To practice as an occupational therapist, one must pass the national examination of the National Board of Occupational Therapy Examiners and hold an Occupational Therapy License with continuing education in the state in which one is employed.