I’ve talked about the difference between school based and clinic based therapies before. While many children qualify for and receive school based therapy, some children benefit from therapy that is beyond the scope of what is provided in the school setting. As a parent, it can be confusing as to whether a child should get school therapy, clinic therapy, or both.
While school therapy is a vital part of a comprehensive program for supporting participation in the academic setting, school based therapy does not (and should not) address all the needs for every child. The addition of speech, occupational, and physical therapy into a child’s IEP (Individualized Education Plan) is dependent on whether there is a specific need related to impairments that are impacting the child’s ability to participate and benefit from the educational setting.
These services will be provided within the context of school and from a practice model using an educational frame of reference. Clinic based services are appropriate when the child’s needs go beyond the limits of school performance and impact the child’s participation in home and community settings.
Parents pursue clinic based services for a variety of reasons:
- The child’s developmental issues impact all aspects of life, beyond school participation
- The child has specific medical concerns that benefit from a medical frame of reference
- The parent notices the child is struggling at school but is not eligible for school related services
- The child is attending a private school and does not access public school services for therapies
- The child is homeschooled and parent doesn’t want to involve the public school system
- The child is under the age of 5, not enrolled in kindergarten, and/or not eligible for an early childhood program through the public school system
- The parent is seeking help with family based issues such as family routines, expectations, or relationships
- The child is successful at school but struggling with participation at home or in the community
- The parent is seeking a second opinion for collaboration or advocacy within the school setting
- The child would benefit from specific groups or task-focused activities outside of the school setting
Clinic based therapists are able to address the whole child within the context of family, home, and community without the limitations of law imposed on school based therapists. While a clinic evaluation can be helpful in advocating for school related services, clinic therapists cannot make recommendations specific to a school setting without being actively involved in that setting (ie: observations in the classroom, participation in planning meetings).
Nevertheless, clinic based services can provide insight to a child’s needs through a different lens, providing assistance to all those who are invested a child’s success. If you’d like to learn more about the services STEPS can offer in our clinic-based environment, get it touch today.