Why did the school-based occupational therapist discharge my child, when it is clear that he/she will still benefit from occupational therapy services? 

This is a question I often get from parents who do not understand the reasoning behind this decision. It is normal for parents to feel frustrated, and disappointed in this type of situation. Most of these feelings can be avoided through proper communication between the individuals involved in the child’s care and education. There is a definite difference between school-based OT and private OT services, but most parents/caregiver(s) are unaware of this difference. It is important that as therapists we are able to provide the facts in order for parents to clearly understand the scope of practice of occupational therapy.

School-Based OT:
Serves as a supplemental service which focuses on assisting the child in accessing all parts of the school environment. This is done through direct intervention, provision of adaptive equipment/technology, and collaboration with school personnel. It strictly follows the child’s individualized Education Plan (IEP), and the goals that the teacher has created. OTs working in the schools collaborate with school personnel in order to support those goals. Once the child has met the goals on the IEP or is able to assess the school environment (cafeteria, playground, classroom, etc) they are discharged from occupational therapy services. However, this does not mean that the child can no longer benefit from OT intervention. This is when private occupational therapy services are beneficial.

Private OT:
Focuses on developing the child’s developmental skills in order to improve their quality of life and successful engagement in activities of daily living. OTs in private settings can collaborate with the family, teacher, and other professionals involved in the child’s care. Private OT has the freedom to work on activities that are not restricted by the school environment and the IEP. They can offer a more tailored intervention that targets underlying factors affecting the child’s performance. Some skills OTs can work on include visual-motor, visual-perceptual, sensory integration, self-regulation, balance and coordination, fine motor, gross motor, and behavioral issues.  

​Still have questions? Feel free to leave a comment with your questions, or send me an e-mail.

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