OT Advocacy


In most states in the US, Occupational & Physical Therapy practitioners are often not included under the umbrella of “teachers”, along with speech therapists, social workers, guidance counselors, and psychologists.

This is due to VERY OLD state legislation that was put in place WAY before OTs started participating in Common Core, RTI, etc.   Way before 20% of OT practitioners were employed in schools.

This limits in many ways.

In some states, it prevents us from being permitted to advance our careers to administrative positions. 

There is a shortage of qualified leaders in the Special Education field, yet there is a whole category of educated professionals who are not able to step up into administrative roles.

Occupational & physical therapy practitioners, not being under the umbrella of teachers, are often not observed and supervised like teachers are.   We are not held to the same standards as teachers.  Often, we are not included in team meetings, faculty meetings, and professional development sessions.


Social workers address the social-emotional and behavioral needs of students that impact a child’s ability to access the curriculum.

School psychologists address social-emotional needs, coping strategies, and other areas that impact a child’s ability to succeed in the classroom.

Speech-language therapists address expressive and receptive language deficits that impact a child’s ability to learn.

Occupational Therapy practitioners address impaired physical functioning which hampers the ability to perform daily life tasks, psychosocial problems which impede the ability to function in daily life, special needs which require modification of the physical environment and/or use of specialized equipment and technologies. Activities emphasize independence in daily living skills and school participation in various settings including classroom, bathroom, cafeteria, and playground.

Physical therapists address deficits in body structure and function, suggesting adaptations to physical tasks, recommending assistive devices, and adapting the environment.  Activities emphasize independence in mobility and school participation in various settings including classroom, bathroom, cafeteria, and playground.


We all have similar job functions within the school setting.

We all address educational goals on student’s Individualized Education Programs to help them access their curriculum.

We should have equal supervision, professional development, retirement, benefits, and the ability to advance to leadership or administrative roles.


The umbrella of Pupil Personnel should include Occupational Therapists in state education departments.  But it doesn’t. This archaic legislation limits us greatly. 

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Would you like to learn more? Check out this podcast on OT SCHOOLHOUSE – it explains everything!


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Prefer a podcast?

Listen to Jaime’s podcast on the OT School House podcast to learn more about advocacy for school based practitioners.

Presenting at the ConnOTA Conference

Attending Advocacy Day in Albany

In Front of the State Building in Albany

Conversations That Matter

NYSOTA Conference

Presenting with fellow advocates Serena Zeidler, Joan Sauvigne-Kirsch, and Vera Gallagher.

ConnOTA conference in 2019

Grabbing AOTA president Wendy Hilibrand’s ear about school-based credentialing.

Meeting with AOTA President Amy Lamb

Made a point to meet the AOTA president Amy Lamb in New Orleans to discuss the pressing issue need for advocacy for school practitioners in 2018


Are you a School-Based OT or PT looking for change?


If you’d like to start a group for your state (or have questions about it), please contact Miss Jaime, O.T. 

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