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Educational Therapy vs. Outpatient Therapy

Educational Therapy

AOT’s educational therapy services address access to school environments and special education for students from age 3 to 21. Our therapy services promote and support independence and participation in a student’s educational setting.

Schools provide these therapy services at no cost to the student or family as part of a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE).

For 3-year-olds, up until their entrance into first grade, families can contact their local Intermediate Unit (IU), school district or statewide number at 1-800-692-7288. Therapy eligibility for preschoolers is determined by a 25% delay or 1.5 standard deviation below the mean in one or more developmental areas or any of the physical or mental disabilities identified by the state and students in need of special education and services. For preschool-age students, we provide services in educational centers, classrooms, homes, and preschools.

For school-age children, families can contact their child’s guidance counselor or their school district’s special education department. A school-age student is eligible for special education services if he/she meets the eligibility criteria for physical or mental disabilities as determined by the state and qualifies for special education services. The evaluation takes into consideration academic and non-academic needs related to accessing the student’s educational program. For school-age students, services are provided in a variety of settings within the classroom and school environment.

Outpatient Therapy

Our partner, PST, provides outpatient therapeutic services for children to address developmental and/or medical conditions in order to gain/restore function. As part of the process, families and caregivers are educated on how to assist their child/adolescent in achieving their individual developmental and functional goals.

A referral is initiated by a parent or physician based on an observed delay or diagnosis; the child needs to display a need for therapy services. Often families can obtain an evaluation within a week of their initial call to PST. The evaluation process includes clinical testing and observation by licensed occupational or physical therapists, or speech/language pathologists, information gained from the child/adolescent and their family, and outside reports. All the settings and activities a child or adolescent participates in are also taken into account. The medical team determines location, focus, frequency and duration of therapy.

Insurance coverage, doctor’s orders, and transportation may be determining factors in receiving medical based therapy services. Services are typically covered by medical insurance, and fees vary based on the needs of the child and their benefits. Therapy services are provided in an outpatient center. Outpatient therapy services can occur in conjunction with early intervention or educationally based services while collaborating to best meet the individual needs of the child/adolescent and family.

Girl in physical therapy
Child in sensory therapy
Child in therapy for motor skills


“After the meeting yesterday, we were talking about our grandson’s behavior chart and incorporating some heavy work throughout his day. He told me about that as soon as I picked him up from daycare and he was grinning about it then too…thank you all for your efforts to help this little much‑loved boy.”

– S. C., Grandparent