In the school setting, Occupational Therapy is a “related service” to Special Education under Part B of the Individuals with Education Act (IDEA). Occupational Therapy is provided when an evaluation has determined that the services are needed for the student to benefit from their education programs. School-based therapists look at underlying skills and issues related to hand function, visual-motor and visual perceptual skills, sensory awareness/processing, self-help skills as they relate to the school environment, and pre-vocational skills that are addressed in the educational setting. These areas can be addressed through a variety of intervention strategies which may include direct therapy with the student, consultation with the teacher(s), modification of the school environment, provision of adaptive equipment, and staff training. Federal law mandates that Occupational Therapy in the school environment be educationally relevant and services for students with special needs are determined through the IEP process.
In the educational setting, the occupational therapist provides evaluation and therapy services based upon educational referrals, not physician referrals. Should the school receive a referral from a physician, the IEP team must consider the referral and base any subsequent recommendations on educational need.
Occupational therapists and Occupational Therapy Assistants working in Arizona must be licensed by the Arizona Board of Occupational Therapy Examiners. The license must be current and valid for the therapist to be considered a qualified provider under the IDEA.