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Blog: Spotlight on Special Education

Annette Hyde

Director of Special Education

Barb Pline

Special Education Consultant

Amy Pope

Special Education Consultant
logo spotlight on special education

The Spotlight on Special Education blog breaks down the complexities of special education one post at at time.

The blog posts are based on the Iowa Special Education Procedural Manual. There may be additional district requirements that are not reflected in the posts.



Most recent post

Keystone OT/PT Services
Keystone OT/PT Staff

Occupational Therapy at Keystone

Occupational Therapy (OT) is a support and related service within IDEA.  We focus on supporting a student to be as independent as possible within his/her daily activities.  Evidence based interventions (as appropriate) are provided within the natural routines and contexts of a student’s school day.  OTs work with the IEP team to develop fine motor skills through:

  • building skills that have not yet developed

  • reteaching skills that were lost due to injury or diagnosis 

  • collaborating with students, educators and families to teach and train for effective carryover and practice

  • develop, assist and be a resource to teachers to set-up accommodations and modifications (hands-on equipment or modified strategies)

  • selection and management of adaptive equipment, training families and collaborating with other agencies

Examples of school age skills OT can support:

  • fine motor (for coloring, cutting, writing, gluing, etc.

  • eye hand coordination

  • self-help skills (for zipping, tying, eating, toileting, etc) 

  • play and social development  

  • sensory supports when they interfere with the educational routines of the school day  


Occupational therapy receives many referrals for “messy handwriting”.  Handwriting is a multi-dimensional topic that has many components. When looking at handwriting through an OT lens, we assess fine motor skills, bilateral skills, motor planning, memory, visual motor, visual perception, attention to task, sequencing, etc.


If messy handwriting is a concern, consider these questions:

  • Has handwriting instruction occurred?
  • Was an intervention in place in the past?
  • Is there a history of fine motor concerns?


Keystone has seven Occupational Therapists (OT) and six Occupational Therapy Assistants (OTA) to serve students (birth to 21), educators and families in our area.  Both OTs and OTAs are licensed therapists who strive to promote independence and successful participation in the students we serve. The OTA, under the supervision of the OT, carries out the IEP and delivers the services outlined on the F page.  The Occupational Therapists will be the person who completes the evaluation and develops (in conjunction with the team) the IFSP and IEP’s.


You can access occupational therapy services by reaching out to us--click here to see Keystone’s occupational therapists or call Keystone’s main number 1-800-632-5918 and they will be able to direct you to the right person!



Intervention Strategy videos


Intervention Strategy Activity Sheets

Physical Therapy at Keystone


Physical therapy (PT) is one of the related services under Part B of (IDEA) and is provided to support the (IEP)
process  for students ages 3-21, who have a disability that interferes with their educational performance and ability to benefit from their education program.


  • When the student’s IEP identifies PT as a needed resource, physical therapists will be integrated as members of a multidisciplinary school team. 
  • Using their unique expertise in movement and function, PTs ensure a free and appropriate education for students with disabilities to prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living. 
  • The school-based PT promotes motor development and the student’s participation in everyday routines and activities that are a part of his or her program and participation in their access to the Iowa CORE.


The school based PT designs and performs therapeutic interventions as well as participates in the instruction of the student’s caregivers of those interventions in the natural environment and the incorporation of strategies in the student’s daily routines.  


Examples of a few of the most common roles of a physical therapist in the school setting:


  1. Designing and implementing physical therapy interventions that allow students to benefit from their educational program
  2. Explanation of the potential impact of developmental, medical and/or sensorimotor impairments on educational performance;
  3. Instruction of other caregivers regarding the physical management of students, such as safe lifting, positioning, assisted ambulation, gross motor programs, vocational tasks, leisure activities, and/or equipment use;
  4. Selecting, modifying, or customizing adaptive equipment and assistive technology.
  5. Adapting environments to facilitate student access and participation in the educational program;
  6. Supporting the safe transportation of students
  7. Educating school personnel and families to promote inclusion of students within the educational setting by developing, demonstrating, training, and monitoring the effectiveness of strategies and intervention activities, and subsequently using gathered data to make program modification decisions. This includes the use of assistive technology for access and participation in the general education curriculum.


Keystone has four Physical Therapists (PT) to serve students (birth to 21), educators and families in our area.  You can access physical therapy services by reaching out to us--click here to see Keystone’s physical therapists or call Keystone’s main number 1-800-632-5918 and they will be able to direct you to the right person!

Reference: Physical Therapy in the School Setting - APTA 



For more information, please contact a member of your district navigator team or refer to our Specialized Service Team Directory.