In schools, occupational therapists help students succeed in daily routines of their school day, including activities within the classroom, playground, lunchroom, and extracurricular activities. They do this through the development of fine motor and visual motor skills, self care independence, problem-solving abilities, along with social skills and work related skills. Occupational therapy services help children develop positive habits and routines that support physical, intellectual, and emotional health and growth. In particular, occupational therapists have specialized knowledge and skills in “social and emotional learning and regulation; task analysis, including sensory, motor, cognitive, and social components; assistive technology; and activity and environmental modifications” (American Occupational Therapy Association, 2009, 4).

Occupational therapists also address the sensory needs of students as well as the other aspects within the school environment that may impact learning. They offer direct services to individuals and small groups, as well as interventions for whole classrooms. They also offer consultation and collaboration with the entire school team, such as physical therapists, classroom teachers, school psychologists and speech-language pathologists, to support a student’s learning, daily living skills, play and leisure activities, and beginning work skills (AOTA, 2009, ¶ 7).