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Are you thinking of creating a resource to help families navigate the IEP process and whether their child needs school-based therapy? Need a topic and a handout for an in-service training you were asked to conduct with teachers and school administrators? Looking for materials to discuss at the next PT meeting of your school district?

Why reinvent the wheel? The Academy of Pediatric Physical Therapy (APPT) of the American Physical Therapy Association may have just what you are seeking. For many years now, APPT members have been creating fact sheets on different topics that summarizes and provides guidance for our practice. I love that the APPT members voted last year to make these resources publicly available for free. Take advantage of them!

SeekFreak OTs and SLPs – you won’t be left behind! We have dedicated September to resources for all disciplines. Our next 2 posts will be handy resources from AOTA and ASHA.

And for all OT, PT and SLP SeekFreaks – these fact sheets and resources, despite being discipline-specific, are great reads for all of us. They have nuggets of information that is applicable to all. Reading them would also provide all of us a better understanding of each other’s role and contributions in school-based practice. Specifically, we recommend fact sheets number 2, 3, 4, 5 and 8 below for OTs and SLPs as they are applicable to all 3 practices.

There are many APPT fact sheets available via this link. We have taken the task of narrowing them down to SeekFreaks’ 10 handiest fact sheets. We chose the 10 that we thought would be most useful for you, families, teachers, administrators, other school colleagues and community providers.

Note that many of these are very brief, having no more than 2-3 pages. As such, they are perfect initial resources for knowledge. More reading is encouraged, that’s why the authors of these fact sheets have included references and reading materials that would be helpful in expounding on the topic.

1. Providing Physical Therapy in Schools Under IDEA 2004

2. Physical Therapy for Educational Benefit

  • Getting tongue-tied every time you are asked what the difference is between school-based and non-school-based practice? This handout will help you out.
  • It starts with the similarities between the 2 settings. Reading this part, it would be a relief for readers to know that we do apply the same concepts, clinical reasoning skills and collaborative approach that we learned in school. For example, both settings apply the best evidence available, the ICF framework, motor learning principles, and health promotion.
  • The second half compares the 2 settings with regards to specific processes and issues, such as referral, decision-making, provision of services, and documentation. Note that this fact sheet is a great starting point for discussions, but it is not set in stone. You will have to consult your state’s or school district’s policy, as they may vary from what is contained here.

3. FAQs on Response to Intervention (Rtl) for School-based Physical Therapists

  • Response to Intervention?! Are therapists supposed to be involved in this? This fact sheet provides a great introduction to RtI. It describes RtI, delineates its 3 Tiers, and describes who can receive RtI.
  • It also provides specific examples of how PTs can participate in the RtI process.
  • Need more resources on RtI, read our SeekFreaks article on RtI.

4. Dosage Considerations: Recommending School-Based Physical Therapy Intervention Under IDEA Resource Manual

  • Warning: there is no magic bullet for dosage! However, this comprehensive manual provides practical guidance for deciding the amount of physical therapy interventions students may be given to help them achieve their goals.
  • It describes various dosing options such as: front-loading, therapeutic blocks or time, transitional services, and short, intensive bursts.
  • It outlines and discusses different factors that may be considered in the decision-making, such as the student’s participation restrictions, impact of therapeutic intervention, readiness for skill acquisition, assistive technology, and support available at the school.
  • It even includes case studies to illustrate the use of this Dosage Considerations manual.

5. Assistive Technology and the Individualized Education Program

  • Would assistive technology help your student achieve independence in a particular task? This fact sheet provides a brief background of how assistive technology (AT) relates to IDEA and the student’s IEP.
  • It provides questions that the team can ask during the IEP meeting that can lead to a decision whether to include AT in the child’s IEP or not.
  • It also describes the role of PT in AT consideration and implementation.

6. Intervention for Youth Who Are in Transition from School to Adult Life

  • Working with students in middle and high school? Then it is time to focus on transitions. What would they be doing after graduation? Has the team thought out the best scenario for these students? Then it is time to put things in place to make this happen.
  • This fact sheet describes the IDEA requirements and best practices for transition.
  • It outlines how PTs can support a student’s transition to post-secondary life.
  • It also lists useful websites for you and your school team.
  • There are other fact sheets related to the topic of transition focused on specific aspects. They describe the latest trends, the role of PT, and even examples of interventions that PTs can provide.

7. The Role and Scope of Pediatric Physical Therapy in Fitness, Wellness, Health Promotion, and Prevention

  • In the same spirit as the fact sheet on transition, this reminds us that the impact of PT can go beyond just the student’s years in schools. We should persevere to have children embrace lifelong fitness activities.
  • This fact sheet provides different considerations for screening and evaluation, as well as evidence-based health and wellness interventions that pertain to children with specific diagnosis (e.g., CP, Down Syndrome, Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy).
  • It also contains select websites and resources for health and wellness.

8. Promoting Social-Emotional Development: An Introduction for Families and Caregivers | Spanish version

  • Socialization is an important aspect of a student’s schooling. As we have discussed in the SeekFreaks article Recognzing ICF Domain Words…Amusing Musings, socialization skills are essential in turning activity into participation.
  • This handout for families provide specific strategies to support social-emotional development according to 3 life stages: infants, toddlers, and children.
  • It also contains a list of how PTs can help a child’s social-emotional development.

9. Performance Appraisal of School-based Physical Therapists: The Link to Student Outcomes

  • This fact sheet was created to address inquiries about performance appraisals of school-based PTs as required by some federal funding.
  • Other than for performance appraisals, this is a fantastic tool on how to write measurable goals. It also contains many examples of Goal Attainment Scales (GAS) that are suitable for measuring a student’s progress in different school environment.

10. Foundations of Pediatric Orthotics

  • Do you want to discuss the need for lower-extremity orthotics with the student’s family? This handout is made just for you.
  • This fact sheet describes the different components of a lower-extremity orthosis (e.g., straps, pads), as well as shoe suggestions that would help accommodate the orthosis.
  • It also has a picture-list of different types of orthoses and what they help with.
  • Just note that this fact sheet was created in 2009, so look out for newer designs and models.

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There are a lot more informative pediatric fact sheets in the APPT website. We just limited it to 10 so as not to be overwhelming. We are going 1 step further by creating bundles of these fact sheets – a basic toolbox, if you will, that you can use depending on your role and your needs.

4 Bundles of APPT Fact Sheets to Suit Your Particular Needs

Bundle #1: Handouts for New School-based PTs, and for PT Students

This bundle would be perfect for clinical instructors to hand out to their PT students. It is also ideal for new PTs, and seasoned PTs who are new to school-based practice.

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Bundle #2: Handouts for Families/Parents/Guardians/Caregivers

As the name implies, this bundle is for families and caregivers. Don’t overwhelm them by handing these out at one time. Select only what’s right for your purpose, and make sure you discuss the contents of the fact sheet with the family. Finally, don’t forget to check with your school and/or school district to see if it’s ok to hand these out.

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Bundle #3: For In-service Training for School Staff and Community Providers

Asked to conduct an in-service to your school team, here are some topics to choose from. It also saves you from having to create your own handout. These fact sheets can also be used to provide key information to those who may be unfamiliar with school-based practice such as physicians, clinic-based therapists, transition case managers, or other community providers.

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Bundle #4: Discussion Topics for Therapist Meetings

Here are some topics to discuss at your school district’s therapist meetings. Make it interactive, have a lively debate, and come up with your own list of answers and guidance.

  • FAQs on Response to Intervention (Rtl) for School-based Physical Therapists
    • Some discussion points:
      • How is RtI implemented in your own school(s)?
      • What is the expectation for PTs to participate?
      • How does your school team monitor the student’s progress in RtI?
      • What are the challenges for PTs who are participating in RtI?
      • What interventions are appropriate to delegate to teachers and teacher aides in RtI?
      • Come up with a list of ways PTs can provide RtI in your school district.   
  • Dosage Considerations: Recommending School-Based Physical Therapy Intervention Under IDEA Resource Manual
    • Discussion ideas:
      • Discuss the 9 considerations included in this manual
      • Select a case study from the appendix and print it for the attendees, but do not include the consideration and recommended dosage. Discuss the case in relation to each of the 9 considerations. Select the best recommendation. Be open for a friendly debate to challenge each participant’s decision-making process.
      • Alternatively, a therapist in your group can volunteer their own case study. Use the same procedure as above.
  • The Role and Scope of Pediatric Physical Therapy in Fitness, Wellness, Health Promotion, and Prevention
    • Discussion ideas:
      • Discuss the long-term effects of inactivity. What type of exercises can prevent them?
      • How can the exercise programs listed in this fact sheet be implemented in the school?
      • Can any of the programs be implemented for the whole class, so students with and without disabilities can be fit?
      • To ensure that exercises are completed with the right frequency, decide who the therapist can train to take the lead? The PE teacher? Classroom teacher? Click here for a SeekFreaks article that contains free classroom activity resources that teachers can use.
      • What are the challenges in implementing such programs?
  • Performance Appraisal of School-based Physical Therapists: The Link to Student Outcomes
    • If your school district happen to require performance appraisals for PTs, discuss this handout at your next meeting. It is probably better if your group is proactive in reaching out to administrators on how they can effectively appraise your performance, instead of waiting for them to create an appraisal that is inappropriate, or that falls short of capturing what you have been contributing to the students’ schooling.

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Readers of this article also read:

OTs, PTs & SLPs in Schools…How Did We Get Here?

Late Summer Reading List for Seasoned School-based OTs, PTs and SLPs

Role of School-based Physical Therapy

Article Review: Role of PT in Promoting Lifelong Fitness

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