Occupational therapy (OT) is a health profession that aims to help individuals participate and be successful in activities that make up their daily life. In the school these activities my include; eating lunch, writing, toileting, copying notes from the board to paper, the ability visually scan their learning environment, the ability to access all the tools they need throughout the day, also the ability to sit and focus during a lesson, or the use of adaptive equipment.
Occupational Therapy is a related service. That means in North Dakota that in order to qualify to receive services a student must also be receiving services for an educational purpose. Therapy in school may not directly address an underlying medical issue, but it aimed to help them succeed and to maximize the child's functions in the school setting. School based therapy is meant to help the student function at school. If the student has underlying issues that do not affect their functioning at school, they my received OT service’s in a clinical setting (out-patient) and not at the school. However, students can and sometimes do receive OT in the school setting as well as in a clinical setting.
OT's often collaborate with the students team which may include; special education teachers, speech language pathologists, physical therapists, school psychologists, regular classroom teachers, paraprofessionals, etc. Ater the team decides an OT evaluation is needed, the OT will then evaluate the student to determine if services are needed. The team will then collaborate to find the right level of service for the student. In the schools OT can see students directly (small groups or one on one) or on a consultative basis. When the OT sees students on a consultative basis, they work closely with the teacher(s) and paraprofessionals to address the student's needs in the classroom.