Role of School PT

  • In order for students to receive physical therapy (PT) services under IDEA Part B, the federal law requires that the students be eligible for special education and that the related service be necessary to assist the students with disabilities to benefit from special education. In this manner, Physical Therapists serve in a supportive role, helping students participate in and benefit from special education.

    Most students can clearly benefit from some services that are not educationally necessary, but may be considered necessary or desirable by parents, other team members, or non-educational service providers.  Because physical therapy may not, in some cases, meet the educational relevance and necessity-to-benefit criteria (as required of related services under IDEA) does not mean the service is not needed or important.  Rather, it may indicate that the service is not the responsibility of the public school.

    Common reason for a student to receive school based PT:

    • Unsafe accessing the classroom or school grounds
    • Unable to participate in motor activities in school and/or with peers (such as recess or PE)
    • Difficulty navigating parts of the classroom, building, or transportation

    Common motor concerns that do NOT always indicate PT services are required (unless they are impacting a child's participation in school and school related activities):

    • Toe walking
    • Tightness
    • Wears orthotics/braces
    • Can't ride a bike
    Find more information on the Department of Education website below.