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(5.15) When can my child get occupational or physical therapy as a related service?

(5.15) When can my child get occupational or physical therapy as a related service?

Occupational Therapy (OT) and Physical Therapy (PT) are discrete related services, defined under state and federal law.  [34 C.F.R. Secs. 300.34(a)(6) & (a)(9); 5 C.C.R. Sec. 3051.6.]  It is not uncommon for these terms to be used together and for students to receive both forms of therapy.  Occupational Therapy/Physical Therapy services generally address a student’s gross and fine motor functioning.  For example, a student may have difficulty running, walking, throwing, catching or jumping (gross motor); or writing, drawing or buttoning and zipping clothes (fine motor).  In addition, a student’s motor functioning may affect independent living skills.  If a student of average intelligence has verbal skills that are higher than motor skills, or if a student with significant disabilities has difficulty with daily living skills such as feeding or dressing, this may be an informal indicator of the need for OT/PT “related services.”

Occupational Therapy/Physical Therapy services are affected by California legislation commonly referred to as AB 3632, which shifted responsibility for providing certain related services from districts to other agencies in certain circumstances (in this case, to California Children’s Services (CCS)).  Many of the issues that arise concerning OT/PT are discussed in Chapter 9, Information on Inter-Agency Services (AB 3632).  Among these issues are the following:

  1. What are the procedures for obtaining OT/PT?
  2. What happens if a student does not meet CCS’ eligibility requirements but still needs OT/PT for educational reasons?
  3. If CCS determines that OT/PT are not “medically necessary,” is the student still entitled to receive OT/PT as related services? If so, who provides it?