" The Illinois State Board of Education published the original version of the “Recommended Practices for Occupational and Physical Therapy Services in Illinois Schools” in 2003. 1 The educational system and approaches for all students as well as special education federal and State laws, rules, and regulations regarding students with disabilities have evolved since that time. Some of the recent changes include Multi-tiered System of Support (MTSS)/Response to Intervention (RtI), the need for a physician’s referral, inclusion of functional skill goal areas along with academic goals and the requirement for transition services. In addition, service plans and proportionate share funding and obligations, guidelines for documentation, workload parameters, and the direction to provide integrated interventions have been more clearly defined. The concept of all students being educated in the least restrictive environment has been emphasized. This includes making sure that academic expectations are rigorous for students with disabilities.
The original purpose of the 2003 document was to present administrators, OT and/or PT personnel, educators, other professionals, and parents/guardians with information regarding the provision of OT and/or PT in educational environments. This updated document is intended to serve as guidance so that each Local Education Agency (LEA) employing Therapy Practitioners can establish or update agency procedures for providing OT and/or PT services within the educational setting. Supervisors of OT and PT departments and Therapy Practitioners should have access to and be knowledgeable of the most current resources. We hope this document will serve as one such resource in addition to the many resources shared. Another purpose is to provide Illinois school administrators and Therapy Practitioners with a sound source of information to follow when serving students with special needs in the school setting. It includes the most salient statutory provisions and best practices for Therapy Practitioners working in schools. This updated document is also intended to provide useful guidance to many other stakeholders of school-based OT and PT services, including but not limited to other school personnel, educators in university programs who prepare students to become Therapy Practitioners, and individuals studying to become Therapy Practitioners.
A consortium of OT and PT coordinators spearheaded a rigorous review of the 2003 document to revise this document with the most relevant and updated resources, changes to federal and State law, and current best practices in school-based OT and PT services. A committee was comprised of fifteen OTs and PTs in leadership positions from multiple school districts and special education cooperatives throughout Illinois as well as three professors in universities educating OT and PT students, who had formerly worked in school-based practice. The committee completed a thorough review of the 2003 document, which included comparing the document to other states’ guidelines for OTs and PTs in schools, having subcommittees complete a review and revision of each section, second and third readings of the document by the whole committee, a review of the revised document by two tiers of professors with expertise in these areas, and additional review and editing by committee leaders and attorneys retained by the consortium. 5 Information provided herein is based upon standards of practice defined by the Illinois Occupational Therapy Practice Act, the Illinois Physical Therapy Act, the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), and the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), as well as the requirements set forth in various federal and State law governing LEAs. Please refer to the References and Legal References sections for detailed information about the resources used to update this document. Inherent in this document are the following assumptions: