OBJECTIVE. This purpose of this study was to describe school-based occupational therapy practice for kindergarten through twelfth-grade students in Colorado and to examine occupational therapy practice in light of current education policy and published views of best practice.
METHOD. Study data were provided by 105 occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants who completed a 24-item questionnaire.
RESULTS. Occupational therapists carried an average caseload of 43.68 students; most frequently served kindergarten through third-grade students with perceptual or communicative disabilities; and delivered services most often in pullout treatment areas. Practitioners spent most of their work week providing direct services. Remedial or developmental approaches were used 62% of the time and compensatory and educational approaches 37% of the time. Individualized education program goals addressed by occupational therapists were most frequently developed by the occupational therapist and targeted students’ sensory or motor impairments. Workshops on autism and sensorimotor intervention techniques were reported as the primary and preferred forms of professional development.
CONCLUSION. The strong majority of reported occupational therapy services contrasted with emerging views of best practice. They were, however, consistent with the Colorado Department of Education’s guidelines for “motor specialists” that address occupational therapy, physical therapy, and adaptive physical educators working in schools. Study findings are discussed.