School-Based PT

                          PT INTERVENTION IN THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS                       


As PTs and OTs in the school system, we work closely with parents and educators to support a student with disabilities in the school environment.  Our interventions are "related services" or support services, meaning we do not have our own separate PT or OT curriculum.  Our job is to support your child in the many aspects of the regular curriculum and his/her special instruction -- along with your child's teacher and the teacher aides.  This collaboration and intervention may take many different forms and is decided upon together when everyone sits down at an IEP (Individualized Educational Program) Meeting.  We discuss the strengths and needs of your student, as well as come up with optimistic, realistic outcomes for a school year.

PTs commonly work within the Early Childhood and 4-year-old Kindergarten classrooms helping to prepare these youngest students for group learning experiences.                                                                                                                                                 

These environments often have center times where children move to different activity centers, a circle time where children sit on the floor, some playground time, and large muscle movement time which might incorporate action songs, finger plays, dances, or imitative play.        

In the school environment, PTs commonly work with others on the educational team such as psychologists, speech and language pathologists,adaptive physical education specialists, and regular physical educators.  We come together on an IEP team with you --- bringing our varied backgrounds and expertise, but with much overlapping information and experience, to help plan for your child to succeed in the simplest (least restrictive) way possible.  It is important to keep children with their peers as much as possible, so the pros and cons of pull-out interventions have to be weighed carefully.


Your child will not have PT services on his IEP plan "forever".  Many students go through periods of "graduating" from a service as their capabilities improve, as their needs change, or as the priorities or interests change or are met in other ways. As students grow and become more confident they may become involved in community sports or hobbies, summer camps, Special Olympics, therapeutic horseback riding, swim lessons, ice skating teams, etc.  Your child's PT in the schools would be happy to share your child's progress in school with your child's primary healthcare provider, but you must have a recent release of information form signed and turned in with your request. As well, we enjoy parent contact to keep us informed of updates at home or new medical visits and treatments.


PTs have backgrounds in muscle strength, range of motion, flexibility, gait training, balance, coordination, motor learning, and functional motor skills.  Some areas that relate to function within the school setting may be a student's posture and position while learning; getting around the educational environment safely and efficiently via walking or using a wheelchair; getting on/off the bus; ability to learn, imitate, and use movement skills that are a typical part of the curriculum; ability to participate as much as possible, or have access to gym class, recess, playground activities, musical programs, etc.


How is a related service different than a curriculum? Mary Muhlenhaupt, an OT with expertise in contemporary school-based practice, has information on her website you can access by clicking along the left-hand side of pages and clicking "more." 


You can ready numerous articles by Michael Giongreco on Support Services and Related Services.


Here is some information on inclusion.