Skip To Main Content

Occupational Therapy & Physical Therapy

What is it?

Occupational Therapy

School-based occupational therapists (OTs) and certified occupational therapy assistants (COTAs) use meaningful activities (occupations) to help students participate in what they need and/or want to do in order to promote physical and mental health and well being in the educational environment. Occupational therapy addresses the physical, cognitive, psychosocial and sensory components of performance in the areas of play and leisure, social participation, self-care skills (ADLs or Activities of Daily Living), and transition/ work skills. Occupational therapy’s expertise includes activity and environmental analysis and modification, with a goal of reducing barriers to participation.

Physical Therapy

The emphasis of school-based physical therapy is to help students access the academic environment and participate in educationally related activities. Physical therapists are responsible for evaluating and treating students with disabilities, recommending adaptive equipment, environmental accommodations, or assistive technology.

When to Refer

To Occupational Therapy:
When students have deficits in sensory processing, fine motor/ handwriting skills, upper extremity coordination/strength, or self-care skills limiting their success in the educational environment.

To Physical Therapy:
When students have deficits in gait, frequent falls, lower extremity coordination and strength, and are unable to access their environment without adaptive aids and equipment limiting their success in the educational environment.

Factors for referrals include: 

  • The deficits significantly interfere with the student's ability to benefit from his/her educational program.
  • Appear to be primarily motor or sensorimotor based.
  • Documented previous attempts to alleviate problems have not been successful.
  • Potential for change in the student's performance through intervention appears likely (change unrelated to maturity).
  • The expertise of a therapist is required.

What Occupational Therapy Addresses

  • Fine motor skills: hand development, hand strength, dexterity, scissor skills shoulder/trunk strength and stability.
  • Handwriting: provide adaptive paper or equipment, pencil grasp, grasp patterns, adaptive equipment to improve legibility.
  • Self-help skills: manage clothing in the school setting (i.e. backpacks, buttons, zippers, snaps, and tying shoes), feeding skills/independence in the cafeteria, toileting, and adaptive equipment.
  • Sensory awareness and processing: recommend sensory strategies to optimize student’s learning potential and decrease sensory overload from the environment (i.e. meltdowns, aversion to tactile/auditory stimuli, constant rocking).
  • Education: provide education to students, staff and parents via handouts, staff meetings, or one on one consultation.

What Physical Therapy Addresses 

  • Ambulation: Functional mobility skills (independent and/or assisted), architectural accessibility, utilize appropriate assistive devices, transfers, positioning.
  • Gross Motor tasks: visual motor, positioning, pre-vocational tasks, play and leisure activities, activities that support students in general education environment.
  • Education: Staff in-service and professional development, and provide assistance in environment adaptations, acquiring, or modifying equipment or devices.

Jessica Brown, OTR
Email |

Dr. Meagan Meachum, PT, DPT
Email |

Address | 1104 Broad Street, Wichita Falls, TX 76301
Main Phone | 940-235-1019