- Occupational Therapy (OT) and Physical Therapy (PT)
- Social Work Services
- Speech Language Services
- School Psychologists
- Instructional Assistants
Occupational and physical therapy are two of the related services of special education mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA). There are several ways a student can receive occupational and physical therapy services in an educational setting. To receive services, students must have an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) or Section 504 Plan. School based therapy services strive to facilitate the students' potential for functional independence and participation in educational activities. This differs from the medical model of therapy services which focuses on medical needs. As related services, OT and PT services are provided if the therapists' expertise is needed to support the attainment of the identified IEP goals or Section 504 supports.
Occupational therapists work with students who are eligible for special education and have been identified with visual motor, fine motor, postural and/or motor needs, self-care and sensory processing deficits that significantly impact the student's ability to participate in their educational program.
Physical therapists work with students who are eligible for special education and have been identified with gross motor, functional mobility, strength/endurance, postural and/or positioning needs that significantly impact the students' ability to participate in their educational program.
Services are provided in the student's most natural and least restrictive environment. Services are delivered using a direct and consultation model.
School based OT and PT services are not intended to take the place of clinical therapy. Medical diagnoses or medical issues that do not interfere with a student's ability to access or participate in his/her educational program are not the focus of school therapy services.
School social workers serve all students enrolled in Community Consolidated School District 181. School social workers bring to the school setting an understanding of the social/emotional development of children and the influence of family, community and cultural differences.
What is a School Social Worker?
School Social Workers (SSW) are a vital part of the educational team, working together with parents, administrators, teachers and related service providers. Their unique graduate level training in social work enables them to understand and interpret influences of the school, home and community on children. School Social Workers identify factors that can make school a more successful experience for students.
What do School Social Workers Do?
School Social Workers help students:
- understand themselves and others
- improve interpersonal relationships
- cope with stress
- develop decision making skills.
School Social Workers help parents:
- participate effectively in their children's education
- understand and meet their children's social and emotional needs
- understand programs available to students with special needs
- utilize school and community resources effectively.
School Social Workers help schools:
- understand factors (cultural, societal, economic, familial, health, etc.) that affect students' abilities to make maximum use of their school experience
- utilize their resources in meeting the educational, social and emotional needs of students
- promote a safe school environment.
Working Across All Levels — SLPs provide appropriate speech-language services to students in preschool, elementary, and middle school levels.
Serving a Range of Disorders — As delineated in the American Speech-Hearing Association (ASHA) Scope of Practice in Speech-Language Pathology and federal regulations, SLPs work with students exhibiting the full range of communication disorders, including those involving receptive and/or expressive language, articulation (speech sound disorders), fluency, voice/resonance, and swallowing.
Ensuring Educational Relevance — SLPs address personal, social/emotional, academic, and vocational needs that have an impact on attainment of educational goals.
Providing Unique Contributions to Curriculum — SLPs provide a distinct set of roles based on their focused expertise in language. They offer assistance in addressing the linguistic and metalinguistic foundations of curriculum learning for students with disabilities, as well as other learners who are at risk for school failure, or those who struggle in school settings.
Highlighting Language/Literacy — Current research supports the interrelationships across the language processes of listening, speaking, reading, and writing. SLPs contribute significantly to the literacy achievement of students with communication disorders, as well as other learners who are at risk for school failure, or those who struggle in school settings.
Providing Culturally Competent Services — With the ever-increasing diversity in the schools, SLPs make important contributions to ensure that all students receive quality, culturally competent services. SLPs have the expertise to distinguish a language disorder from “something else.” That “something else” might include cultural and linguistic differences, socioeconomic factors, lack of adequate prior instruction, and the process of acquiring the dialect of English used in the schools. This expertise leads to more accurate and appropriate identification of student needs. SLPs can also address the impact of language differences and second language acquisition on student learning and provide assistance to teachers in promoting educational growth.
Prevention — SLPs are integrally involved in the efforts of schools to prevent academic failure in whatever form those initiatives may take; for example, in Response to Intervention (RTI). SLPs use evidence-based practice (EBP) in prevention approaches.
Assessment — SLPs conduct assessments in collaboration with others that help to identify students with communication disorders as well as to inform instruction and intervention, consistent with EBP.
Intervention — SLPs provide intervention that is appropriate to the age and learning needs of each individual student and is selected through an evidence-based decision-making process.
Program Design — SLPs configure schoolwide programs that employ a continuum of service delivery models in the least restrictive environment for students with disabilities, and that they provide services to other students as appropriate.
Data Collection and Analysis — SLPs, like all educators, are accountable for student outcomes. Therefore, data-based decision making, including gathering and interpreting data with individual students, as well as overall program evaluation are essential responsibilities.
Collaboration with Other School Professionals — SLPs provide services to support the instructional program at a school. Therefore, SLPs' unique contributions complement and augment those made by other professionals who also have unique perspectives and skills. Working collegially with general education teachers who are primarily responsible for curriculum and instruction is essential. SLPs also work closely with reading specialists, literacy coaches, special education teachers, occupational therapists, physical therapists, school psychologists, audiologists, and social workers, in addition to others. Working with school and district administrators in designing and implementing programs is crucial.
Collaboration within the Community — SLPs work with a variety of individuals and agencies (e.g., physicians, private therapy practitioners, social service agencies, private schools, and vocational rehabilitation) who may be involved in teaching or providing services to district students.
Collaboration with Families — SLPs engage families in planning, decision making, and program implementation. SLPs are in a position to provide training to parents of students of all ages with regard to communication development and disorders. They may be especially helpful to families in creating a language- and literacy-rich home environment.
Supervision and Mentorship — SLPs are involved with supervising student SLPs and clinical fellows, as well as in mentoring new SLPs. They also may assist in training and supervising teacher assistants.
School psychologists provide a variety of services to students, school staff, and parents. School psychologists are trained in the areas of assessment, childhood development, behavioral management, individual/group counseling, and consultation.
School psychologists are involved in many areas including:
- Response to Intervention
- Academic Performance and Evaluation
- Child Development
- Crisis Intervention
- Behavioral Management
- Social Skills
- State & Federal Special Education Regulations
- Psychoeducational Evaluations
Instructional Assistants (“IAs”) are special education professionals who help support students and teachers in special education settings. Instructional Assistants work with students with a variety of disabilities including learning disabilities, emotional disturbance, autism spectrum disorders, ADHD, developmental disabilities, and intellectual disabilities. They may work in special classrooms or serve to support general education classrooms and individual students throughout their day.