OT is a "related service" available to students with disabilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) or Section 504, provided by the school during the school day, without cost to the family. It can be a "pull out" service, where the student leaves the classroom for a period to work with the occupational therapist, usually in a small group but sometimes individually. Or it can be a "push in" service, where the therapist comes into the classroom and works with the student or students as they go about their daily activities. This is a particularly effective way of providing services, since research demonstrates that skills are better mastered when they are practiced in the environment in which they occur. The frequency and duration of these sessions need to be specified in the IEP or 504 Plan. Some families choose to work with an occupational therapist who has a private practice outside of a school.
In addition to helping students with graphomotor (handwriting) difficulties and keyboarding skills, an occupational therapist can help address such issues as the need for specialized seating in the classroom or on the bus, learning self-care (for students with significant disabilities), and practical matters such as managing a backpack or dealing with sensory issues such as intolerance for excessive noise or school bells and buzzers.