Related services help children with disabilities benefit from their special education by providing extra help and support in needed areas, such as speaking or moving. These services can include direct therapy, assistive technology, or consultation. Related services are structured around the identified needs and services required by a student's IEP.
Occupational therapy is a related service that is provided when an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) Team determines that a child has a disability and that therapy is required in order for the child to benefit from special educational programming. Occupational therapy is provided by a licensed therapist to evaluate the child’s functional skills in the area of self-care, academic, vocational, and play or leisure activities that occur in school environments and to make recommendations for school-based services. Treatment may include recommendations for assistive technology and environmental modifications, remediation of sensory/motor and visual perceptual deficits that impair function, and the use of purposeful activity to facilitate the child’s active participation in his/her special educational program. A school occupational therapist’s focus is on helping the child to acquire functional skills, using natural opportunities for the child to develop sensory/motor competence in integrated environments, and identifying strategies that school staff and parents can use in the child’s daily routines in order to help the child become more independent.
- Participation in the evaluation team process
- Preparing goals and objectives for the IEP
- Providing appropriate service to students based upon the IEP and medical prescriptions
- Instructing school staff and families in the delivery of activities to enhance the development of a child receiving therapy
- Consultation with school staff and families
Physical therapy is provided for treatment for muscle development, ambulation, and gross motor skills that enable students with physical disabilities to participate and profit from their educational program. Physical therapy is a "related" service that is provided to students with identified special education needs. Physical therapists also assist in selection of appropriate classroom equipment and provide consultation and instruction to school staff and parents on exercises and procedures for positioning and transfer that may be required.