Occupational Therapy (OT) and Physical Therapy (PT) services are provided to students with special needs under provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Educational Improvement Act of 2004. Since Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy are Related Service as indicated by California State Education Code, a student may receive OT or PT as a part of an IEP. Both the therapy specialist and therapy assistants provide student services in the classroom, provide skill building outside the classroom, and support a student through ongoing collaboration with teachers, staff and other service providers. Therapy specialists have the additional duties of performing assessments and developing and monitoring a student’s therapy intervention plan.



Physical therapists and physical therapy assistants in San Diego Unified School District work with educational staff and parents to support students with disabilities, particularly those with movement disorders, to access the school environment and curricula. The main focus is on functional areas including: proper seating and positioning, independent mobility around the classroom and school site, participation in play and leisure activities and preparation for adult life.



The word “Occupation” denotes a meaningful activity that a person performs in his or her daily life. For school-aged children, one very important role or occupation is that of a student. Occupational Therapists consider a student’s abilities, environmental factors and required tasks when supporting students.


Occupational Therapists can assist in supporting student performance in the areas following areas:

  •           Motor Skills / Sensory Motor Abilities (ex. Classroom tool use, accommodations for writing, supports for desk posture)
  •           Social/Emotional /Behavioral Skills (ex. Proactive movement strategies to assist with self-regulation, accommodations for sensitivity to sensory input).
  •           Self-Help / Adaptive Skills  (ex. Motor ability for hygiene and clothing management, provide accommodations through equipment).



Referring a child for occupational or physical therapy services is a team decision. The first person that should be contacted when considering the need for occupational or physical therapy services for a student is the therapist that is assigned to your school site. If you have questions regarding whether or not a student would benefit from a related service, please discuss your concerns with your therapist. They may also elect to informally observe the student to determine if a full assessment is needed. If a parent requests an assessment by either occupational or physical therapy, please notify your assigned therapist immediately. 

Contact Information

OT and PT Related and Specialized Services
Wiggin Center
4350 Mt. Everest Blvd, Room B-11
San Diego, CA 92117 

(858) 573-5941 – Phone

(858) 573-5985 – Fax