Special Education Students

Those students already eligible for special education services and having challenges in the areas addressed by physical therapy (i.e. safety, mobility, access) or occupational therapy (i.e. sensory issues, fine/visual motor skills, or self care) should be referred for an assessment, to determine needs. Also students transferring into the school system/program with OT and/or PT indicated on a current Individualized Education Program (IEP) are referred for continuation of current services.

Section 504 Students

Students with a diagnosis of having a physical or mental impairment/disability which substantially limits a major life activity, such as self care, walking, seeing, hearing, working, and performing manual tasks, may be referred for an OT and/or PT assessment to determine if a 504 modification/strategy plan is needed.

Assessment Procedure

  • At a Planning and Placement Team meeting (PPT), the team recommends testing and obtains parental consent to conduct an OT assessment and/or PT assessment. The Individualized Education Program (IEP) written at the PPT includes assessment(s)/evaluation(s) indicated and the parental consent form. These are sent to the public school system’s special education director.

  • The special education director will forward copies of the above with an ACES ETS Referral Form indicating OT and/or PT evaluation to ACES ETS.

  • ETS staff will complete assessments and recommend services, if appropriate. Results of the assessment and recommendations are then reviewed at another scheduled PPT.

An important objective of the OT and PT assessment/evaluation process is to address the presenting problem by integrating information from a combination of assessments related to function, environment, and curriculum.


Assessment within the educational setting is a process where the occupational therapist works in collaboration with the team. The purpose of the assessment is to: a) determine eligibility for service within the students’ natural environments; b) establish baselines for documenting progress; and c) help plan intervention strategies.

Occupational therapists should assess how students function in the classroom, cafeteria, halls, playground, restroom, bus, and anywhere else within the school environment. Students in vocational programs will have a number of different educational goals and settings, implying variation in education-related skills being assessed.

Assessments should be:

  • in a natural environment (classroom, playground, educational setting);

  • peer- and age-appropriate (specific tasks in sensory, fine/visual motor, and self care);

  • a continuous process (file reviews, observations, interviews, work/sample review, task completion);

  • cognizant of lifestyle management (behavior, observation across settings).



School physical therapists assess students’ functional performance during the school day.

Assessment within the educational setting is a process where the physical therapist works in collaboration with the team to:

  • determine eligibility for service within the students’ natural environment (classroom, gym, hallways, stairs, on/off bus, playgrounds, educational setting);

  • establish baselines for documenting progress (safety, accessibility, mobility);

  • help plan intervention strategies


How a Student Gets Continuation of Services

  • The student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 Plan is forwarded to ETS through the public school system’s special education director with the ACES ETS Referral Form indicating continuation of OT and/or PT services with a copy of the IEP or 504 Plan.

  • ACES ETS staff initiates services as indicated in the IEP or 504 Plan and follows the established modifications/accommodations and goals/objectives within an indicated frequency of service.