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Contact Information:
Trish Gunshore, Coordinator of Special Services
410 787-8812
410 279-1072

Jodie Williams, MS, OTR/L
410 787-8812

Judie Davidson, PT
410 570-8261

Special Education

Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy Services

Overview of Services

Occupational and physical therapy are among the services that are available to children with disabilities under Parts B and C of IDEA 2004. Occupational and physical therapy practitioners, having skills and knowledge based on sound anatomical, physiological, and theoretical constructs, provide a unique service to children with disabilities and contribute specific expertise to the team responsible for meeting the child’s educational or family service plan needs.

The IDEA Part B code of federal regulations [CFR 34 §300.34(c)(6)] defines occupational therapy (OT) as services provided by a qualified occupational therapist including:

  • improving, developing, or restoring functions impaired or lost through illness, injury, or deprivation;

  • improving ability to perform tasks for independent functioning if functions are impaired or lost; and

  • preventing, through early intervention, initial or further impairment or loss of function.

Physical therapy (PT) means services provided by a qualified physical therapist. [CFR 34 §300.34(c)(9)].  Physical therapy services are not specified in IDEA [CFR 34 §300.34(c)(9)]. These services generally identify the impact of a student’s disability on his/her performance of the physical tasks associated with the educational setting which may include daycare, community preschool or home.


Students with disabilities may receive occupational and/or physical therapy as related services to their special education programs, when the unique expertise of an  occupational therapist (OT) and/or physical therapist (PT) is required for the student to access, participate, and progress in the learning environment. 


The primary goal of OT and PT in public education is to enable children with disabilities to benefit from special education instruction in the least restrictive environment [34 CFR §300.34(a)]. This can be accomplished in multiple ways including services to the child and on behalf of the child, such as support of the parent/teacher/caregiver and other team members working with the child.

Referral Process

A referral for an occupational or physical therapy assessment is initiated when the school team, including the therapist, reviews screening information and the review suggests that a sensory, motor, or physical dysfunction is interfering with the student's ability to participate in his/her educational program. Therapist observation of the student in the natural learning environment should occur prior to initiating the referral process.