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.


Go to our Action Page and learn about easy steps you can take to promote school-based Occupational Therapy Practitioners & Physical Therapy Practitioners in NY or Your State!

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!


Stay Informed!

Who is Jaime Spencer?

Jaime Spencer is the creator and author of MissJaimeOT.com. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Occupational Therapy from Utica College and a Master’s Degree in Special Education from Adelphi University. She is certified in Assistive Technology at California State University Northridge. She has been a school-based Occupational Therapy practitioner for twenty-two years and currently works in a public school setting with students from Kindergarten to 5th grade.   Jaime is a passionate school-based occupational therapy advocate. She’s an adjunct research mentor for Touro College School of Health Sciences and is currently working on research regarding the perceptions of school administrators about occupational therapy practitioners as leaders in New York.

Do you like podcasts?

Listen to this podcast on the OT School House podcast to learn more about advocacy for school-based practitioners.

Presenting at the ConnOTA Conference

Joan Sauvigne-Kirsch, Jaime Spencer, Serena Zeidler

Cromwell, Connecticut, 2019

Attending Advocacy Day in Albany

Jaime Spencer & Tanya Soroko

Advocacy Day, Albany, NY

NYSOTA conference with Jeff Tomlinson

Jeff Tomlinson, Lobbyist

In Front of the State Building in Albany

Serena Zeidler and Jaime Spencer

Albany, NY, 2018

Conversations That Matter

AOTA, Salt Lake City, 2018

NYSOTA Conference

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

OT Miri & Miss Jaime

Miri Lee (OT Miri) and Jaime Spencer (Miss Jaime, O.T.)

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

Overcoming Barriers to Forge Leadership Pathways for OT Practitioners

Joan Sauvignon-Kirsh, Serena Zeidler, and Jaime Spencer

AOTA, New Orleans, Louisiana, 2019


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