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Adapted Physical Education

‚ÄčAssistive Technology

Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy Services


Adapted Physical Education-Physical education services are available to all students eligible for special education services. Adapted Physical Education (APE) is a part of the comprehensive program offered through special education services. APE services strive to provide students with disabilities an opportunity to develop skills through a variety of exercise, sport and leisure activities that will serve them through life. The IEP team makes referrals for evaluations and services provided by the Adaptive Physical Education Specialists.

Goals of the Adapted Physical Education Program:

• To allow students with disabilities an opportunity to be successful in a physical education setting unique to their individual needs

• To provide students with disabilities with alternative physical education activities adapted to their unique abilities, interests and cognitive styles

• To cooperatively work with mainstream education in planning physical education programs and supervising integrated activities.

• To evaluate equipment, materials, and curriculum so as to appropriately plan individualized or group programs for students with disabilities.

• To develop fitness skills in students with disabilities that will serve them throughout the life span.

• To provide consultation services to physical education teachers in general education classes who are working with individualized programming for student s with disabilities.

Assistive Technology is any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of a child with a disability.

When considering assistive technology the question is not what technologies are available to my child or student. The question is "what specific task is the child being asked to do that he or she is having difficulty completing without assistive technology?" Be as specific as possible when considering assistive technology - know what you want the outcome to be. Assistive Technology is not a cure but a support to the student to achieve the tasks and goals of the IEP. Consider the following:

• Student's impairment / limitations

• Student's abilities (physical, cognitive, sensory)

• Task(s) to be completed

• The environment

• Strategies and/or supports

• Know what it is you want the student to accomplish with the equipment

• The technology that is already available in the classroom.

Pre-Referral / Referral Procedures

Convene an IEP meeting to discuss the student's access to the curriculum and to determine the area or areas of concern. Teachers must provide and document 4 to 6 weeks of suggested strategies, interventions and supports in the area (s) of concern. If suggested strategies are not successful after 4 to 6 weeks of implementation, an Assistive Technology Referral, including the Assistive Technology Considerations checklist, must be completed by the IEP Team. If supports, interventions and /or strategies are successful an assistive technology referral is not needed.

Occupational Therapy-Request for a referral for an occupational therapy (OT) and /or physical therapy (PT) evaluation are made through the special education facilitator at the student's zoned school. Once the referral is made by the IEP team, the therapist will evaluate the student in accordance with district policy and procedures. The evaluation process includes gathering data from a variety of sources.

Definition of School-based Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy Services

OT/PT provided within the educational setting must be educationally relevant and necessary for the student to benefit from Alabama's educational system for all students. School-based therapy involves "teaming" in which recommendations and decisions are made based on input from all IEP team members in order to determine a student's total educational plan. 

School-based OT and PT therapists identify needs of the student and assist in providing strategies on how to best capitalize on abilities and minimize the impact of the disabilities in the educational environment. The school-based therapist evaluates a student to determine abilities as well as disabilities. The school-based therapist provides data to assist the IEP team in determining the adverse effect these disabilities may have on the student's performance in the educational environment. Input is gathered from teachers, parents, the student, and other educational staff as to how these challenges may influence performance areas within the educational environment. Upon completion of the evaluation the results and recommendations are shared with the IEP team. The IEP team then determines if the student will receive OT or PT services and also determines the frequency of services.

The primary role of the school-based OT and PT therapist is to assist students in benefiting from their educational program. A general guideline is that therapy must contribute to the development or improvement of the student's academic and functional performance.

Delivery of OT/PT Services in the School Setting

• Services are provided to enable the student to benefit from his/her special education program and facilitate access to the general education curriculum.

• Services are provided in the student's daily educational routine.

• Services are provided through a team approach (teachers, paraprofessionals, parents, etc.)

• Services are provided using a variety of instructional strategies with an emphasis on an integrated collaborative service model. 

• Educational strategies and interventions are developed and implemented jointly by team members.

• If OT/PT services are no longer required, the services are discontinued through the IEP process.

Occupational Therapy Assessment and Evaluation

Once an occupational therapy evaluation is requested by an IEP team referral and parental consent is obtained, the occupational therapist begins the evaluation process. The OT evaluation in the school focuses on the student's ability to participate in functional school activities or for the preschool child to participate in developmentally appropriate activities. 

Areas of evaluation by te occupational therapist include:

• Activities of daily living within the school environment

• The design, fabrication, and application of selected splints

• Sensory-motor activities and exercises

• Design, fabrication, selection, and use of adaptive equipment

• Therapeutic activities and exercise to enhance functional performance

• Work readiness evaluation and training

Physical Therapy Assessment and Evaluation

The physical therapy evaluation is conducted after obtaining the IEP team referral, the parental consent for evaluation and a medical referral from the student's physician. School-based physical therapy evaluation and intervention focuses on enabling the student to participate fully in their educational environment and on achieving needed functional motor skills for further education, employment, and independent living. Intervention involves communication, coordination, documentation and student related instruction. Interventions should occur as much as possible in naturally occurring settings throughout the school day and with the routine implementation by the instructional staff.

Areas of evaluation by the physical therapist include:

• Case history and a systems review as related to school participation

• Tests and measures to identify impairments that may cause limitations in activities and participation in school performance.

• Assessment of functional movement skills within the educational environment

• Architectural accessibility

• Assistive technology use and need for gross motor skills