Occupational therapy is concerned with a person’s ability to participate in desired daily life activities or ‘occupations’. In the school setting, occupational therapy practitioners use their unique expertise to help children prepare for and perform important learning and school-related activities and to fulfill their role as students. Occupational therapists (and occupational therapy assistants, under the supervision of the occupational therapist) support academic and non-academic outcomes, including social skills, math, reading and writing (i.e. literacy), behavior management, recess, participation in sports, self-help skills, prevocational/vocational participation, and more. Practitioners are particularly skilled in facilitating student access to curricular and extracurricular activities through supports, designing and planning, and other methods. Additionally, they play a critical role in training parents, other staff members, and caregivers regarding educating students with diverse learning needs.
Occupational therapy (OT) is considered a related service and, as such, assists a student in benefiting from his or her education program. Occupational therapy treatment in the educational setting is not intended to eliminate each impairment or dysfunction that a student may bring to the school setting. The occupational therapist’s role is to assist the educational team in determining how specific performance components, such as sensorimotor or psychosocial issues, may be interfering with a student’s learning and successful participation in school roles and responsibilities. After this determination is made, the educational team can make informed decisions about designing instruction and services to improve, develop, and restore function, prevent initial or further impairment, or slow loss of function.