OT:  WHAT IS IT?
    Occupational therapy (OT) is a service that helps individuals gain and/or regain independence in their environments. Occupational therapy in the school systems is directly related to the student’s education and takes place in the school environment. Occupational Therapists/Occupational Therapy Assistants work with teachers and other school personnel to ensure that the student’s needs are being met. The ultimate goal of OT is for the student to develop/learn new skills, generalize these skills to the classroom, and then demonstrate independence throughout the entire school setting and throughout their life.

    What do Occupational Therapists do in the Schools?

    • A student’s success and ability to successfully complete age-appropriate activities within the school environment may be caused by difficulties in numerous areas. Occupational therapy may be able to help your student.

    Occupational therapists (OTs) help children accomplish their “job” of being a student. This includes helping students improve their skills and complete tasks involving, but not limited to:

    • fine motor/hand use
    • bilateral and bimanual skills (using two hands together)
    • trunk control, strength and endurance (as related to posture, such as when sitting at a desk)
    • motor planning and sequencing
    • classroom routines and negotiating the school environment
    • oral-motor, feeding and mealtime challenges
    • handwriting issues
    • ergonomics
    • assistance in generalizing skills to various school settings
    • adaptations to promote improvements in visual abilities for safety and independence
    • adaptive coping strategies
    • energy conservation techniques
    • interacting with peers and/or teachers (establishing social relationships)
    • eye-hand coordination for classroom, physical education and playground activities
    • managing behaviors in socially appropriate ways
    • assistive technology
    • sensory processing (as related to learning and behavior)

    How do Occupational Therapists Serve Students?

    OT is a related service in the schools, which means occupational therapy is a service that supports a child’s special education services. Occupational therapy services assist the child to benefit from their special education and to meet their Individualized Education Plan (IEP) goals and objectives. 

    In order for a student to qualify for occupational therapy services, an occupational therapy assessment must be completed.

    • Students qualify for services when they score two standard deviations below the norm. The specific “qualifying” score differs depending on what evaluation tool is used to assess a student.
    • An occupational therapist’s professional observations and judgment also factor in to the decision on whether a student qualifies.
    • It is a team decision on whether occupational therapy services will be started and how the occupational therapy services will be provided. The team includes all school district personnel along with parents/guardians of the student.
    • Goals and objectives are written as a team.

    Occupational therapy services are available for Henry County Public School students in different formats:

    • Direct Services:
      • One-on-one: The therapy session involves the therapist and one student.
      • Small Group: The therapy session involves the therapist and more than one student. Usually groups do not exceed three students.
    • Indirect Services:
      • Monitor: The OT remains on the child’s IEP. The therapist is responsible 
        for monitoring a child’s progress monthly, quarterly or whatever time frame has been identified or deemed appropriate.
      • Consult: The OT remains on the child’s IEP and teachers or others are 
        responsible to contact the therapist if concerns or issues arise. 
        Often a student is moved to an OT consult basis prior to OT dismissal; however this is not always the case.