Occupational & Physical Therapy

Occupational Therapists (OT) and Physical Therapists (PT) and OT and PT assistants (OTA, PTA) work in health care settings such as hospitals and private clinics, as well as in developmental centers and schools.

Schools are natural environments where therapists help students develop the underlying motor skills necessary for learning and for performing specific tasks. The school therapist focuses on a student's fine, gross and visual motor development in order to improve functioning in the school. In addition OT and PTs work with IEP team members in considering adaptations and modifications to support the student at school

School based occupational and physical therapy is a related service provided to children with disabilities under Part B of IDEA. IDEA requires schools must provide all children with disabilities will receive a free, appropriate public education. In order to receive occupational/physical therapy services, the student must first qualify for Special Education under the Washington Administrative Code (WAC 392-172A ). The student must have fine motor, gross motor, and/or visual perceptual deficits that impact the ability to function in the school environment such that the classroom staff is unable or untrained to program or adapt for a student's needs. Occupational/physical therapy may be provided if fine motor, gross motor, or visual perceptual deficits adversely affect educational performance in a significant way.

Educational significance is determined by a combination of the following:


1. assessment test input
2. functional evaluation
3. standardized testing

The assessment team consists of the parents, student's teacher, special education staff, and administrative representative.

Motor services provided may include: use of classroom tools and materials, handwriting, keyboarding, assistive technology, self help skills, mobility, participation on group motor activities, and access to equipment and environments in the school setting. OTs and PTs consult with school staff, parents and caregivers around issues that affect a student’s education. This may include strategies for sensory behaviors, positioning/seating guidelines, strength and range of motion activities, and skills to practice in school and at home.

Occupational and physical therapists are state licensed in their professions and have an Educational Staff Associate certificate (ESA) to work in schools. Occupational and physical therapists have Bachelors and/or Masters Degrees. Physical Therapists who completed their graduate school training in 2008 or later have a Doctorate in PT (DPT) degree. Both Occupational and Physical Therapists are Nationally Board Certified.