• Welcome to Occupational & Physical Therapy

      Name: Susan Smith, M.ED.
      Title: Director, Exceptional Student Services
      Phone number: 928-527-6171

      Name: Michele Moore
      Title: Account Specialist, Exceptional Student Services
      Email Address: mmoore@fusd1.org
      Phone number: 928-527-6160

      Who can get school-based therapy services? 

      • OT/PT is a related service, not a stand-alone service.
      • Student must be identified as having a disability that interferes with education under the criteria of IDEA.
      • OT/PT is not based on specific test scores or discrepancies, but rather on whether the unique expertise of the therapist is required for the student’s educational participation.
      • Medical diagnosis itself does not determine eligibility under IDEA.
      • The disability must “adversely affect the child's educational performance” (Part B).

      What is the definition of school-based therapy services under Federal Law IDEA?


      • Improving, developing, or restoring functions impaired or lost through illness, injury, or deprivation
      • Improving ability to perform tasks for independent functioning if functions are impaired or lost


      • Help a child with an educational disability benefit from his/her special education program in the least restrictive learning environment. Physical therapists address performance skills where a child’s disability impacts or compromises their ability to access, participate, and/or make progress in their natural learning environments.

      What does school-based therapy work on?


      • Fine motor deficits that impact academics
        • Fine motor dexterity (cutting, manipulatives, etc.)
        • Posture or seating if physical therapy is not involved
        • Imitating motor movements (circle time, fingerplays)
        • Bilateral coordination (using two hands to do two different things)
      • Visual Perceptual deficits that impact academics
        • Handwriting (fundamental motor skills related to handwriting – after formal instruction)
        • Letter formation
        • Sizing
        • Spacing
        • Typing
        • Visual sequencing (puzzles, etc.)
        • Figure ground (finding items in a competing background)
      • Sensory-based behaviors that impact academics
        • Oversensitivity
          • Student squints, covers ears, refuses messy play
        • Overstimulation
          • “Shuts down” when the environment is too noisy or busy
        • Seeking movement
          • Getting up out of seat frequently, frenetic movement
        • Seeking pressure
          • Sitting on feet, touching others excessively, crashing into things


      • Gross motor deficits that impact academics
      • Posture and positioning—Symmetry of positions, handling and transfer methods
      • Neuromuscular and musculoskeletal systems—Range of motion, control of muscle tone, muscle strength, endurance, gross motor coordination, and motor planning
      • Sensory processing—Equilibrium and protective reactions, proprioceptive and kinesthetic input, and bilateral coordination
      • Functional communication—Classroom positioning, recommendations for adaptive devices or equipment
      • Environmental adaptations—Evaluations and recommendations for modifications of architectural barriers and children’s equipment
      • Adaptive equipment—Skin care, recommendations for splints, bracing, and positioning devices
      • Functional mobility—Transfer skills, gait evaluation and recommendations, wheelchair mobility
      • Mobility and transfer skills—Adaptive equipment, wheelchair and equipment care, and use for self-help
      • Physiological function—Functional muscle strengthening, cardiorespiratory function and fitness, body mechanics, energy conservation techniques
      • Prevocational and vocational skills—Generally strengthening, sitting and standing tolerance, motor coordination, adaptive equipment
      • Education/communication—Information on disability and educational impact, staff training and development, liaison between medical and education staff (Martin, 1992)

      What is not is an OT/PT’s realm of practice?

      • Writing conventions
        • Capitalization and punctuation
        • Grammar
        • Content
      • Attention-seeking or escape behaviors
        • Behaviors that can be remediated with a positive behavior plan, sticker chart, etc.
      • Students may have a diagnosed disability that impacts their motor skills BUT if it is not impacting their ability to participate in the educational program, then school-based related services are not indicated.


      • Personal trainer
        • Weight loss specialist/sports motivator
      • “Toe Walking”
        • How is this adversely impacting student’s education?
      • Acute orthopedic injuries
      • Students may have a diagnosed disability that impacts their motor skills BUT if it is not impacting their ability to participate in the educational program, then school-based related services are not indicated.

      When are school-based therapy services discontinued?  

      Discontinuing PT/OT services is warranted when the IEP/504 team determines that the child no longer requires the unique expertise of the occupational/physical therapist to achieve educational benefit. Factors in this decision include:

      • Child has met the functional goals.
      • Deficits are no longer interfering with the child’s ability to function within his/her educational program.
      • Strategies can be implemented by the current educational team.
      • Equipment and environmental modifications are in place and are effective.
      • Level of participation is within expectation for the child’s educational program.

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