Student Services » Occupational & Physical Therapy

Occupational & Physical Therapy

What is the referral process for Occupational and Physical Therapy?

Students can be referred for a school based occupational and/or physical therapy evaluation by a teacher, parent, health service professional or team member of the IEP. If the student’s disability is affecting the student’s educational performance then an evaluation may be appropriate. Students are usually referred to OT and PT if they demonstrate difficulty maneuvering in the school setting, difficulty with visual/motor skills, have balance/coordination concerns or equipment needs.

In order for the student to be evaluated, the family must complete and sign a consent form for the evaluation. This form must also be completed by the student’s physician and be signed and dated by the physician. The OT and PT will not be able to evaluate or provide services to the student until both the family and the physician have provided written permission.

How does my child qualify for Occupational and Physical Therapy?

School-age students are assessed on their ability to function as independently as possible in the school setting based on their potential abilities within their disability. Occupational therapists assess the student’s fine motor skills, visual-perceptual-motor skills, sensory processing skills and self-help skills. Physical therapists assess the student’s walking (ambulation) skills, ability to transfer, ability to utilize classroom desks/lockers, ability to access the cafeteria and restrooms.

Occupational and physical therapists also use clinical observation, clinical judgment, information from teachers, family and student along with standardized testing, as needed, in order to determine a student’s eligibility for services.

What happens next?

Occupational and Physical Therapy are considered related services. OT and PT can enter a student’s IEP when it is essential to meet appropriate special education goals. As an IEP team member, the OT and PT can help to identify the student’s strengths and needs, assist with planning goals for educational performance, implement strategies within the educational program, help to project functional outcomes for the student’s future, help to explain the students medical disabilities and their affect on the student’s expected educational performance and act as a liaison between the medical and educational providers. Service frequency and duration of OT and PT are determined by the ongoing needs of the student.

When will my child be discharged from Occupational or Physical Therapy?

Occupational and/or physical therapy services may be discontinued once the student achieves his IEP goals or the IEP team feels that the student no longer requires the services or is not benefiting from the services. The IEP must be amended to show that the student is no longer receiving the related service of OT and/or PT.

The IEP team may consider the following conditions when determining that the student no longer needs Occupational and/or Physical Therapy to benefit from their educational program.

1. The student is functional within the educational environment or has met goals targeted on the IEP, and therapy services are no longer indicated.

2. The student’s disability does not negatively affect his educational program.

3. Other educational personnel are able to assist the students in areas of concern addressed by OT and/or PT, and the student has achieved maximum benefit from OT and/or PT.

4. Student performance remains unchanged despite multiple efforts by the therapist to remediate the concerns or to assist the student in compensating.

5. The student continues to make progress in the areas being addressed by OT and/or PT consistent with developmental progress in other educational areas despite a decrease in OT and/or PT services.

6. Therapy is contraindicated because of the change in medical or physical status.

7. The student’s parents request the termination of services.

Alyssa Babyak

Alyssa Babyak, MOT, OTR/L

Phone: 724-861-3030 ext 6335

Degrees and Certifications:

BS in Rehabilitation Science; Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)

My name is Alyssa Babyak, and as a former Norwin Knight (Class of 2007), I am proud to be in my third year as one of Norwin's occupational therapists.  
Following my Norwin education, I received a Bachelor of Science in Rehabilitation Science with a certificate in Psycho-Social Issues in Rehabilitation and Personal Care in April 2011, and a Master of Occupational Therapy in June 2013, both from the University of Pittsburgh.  I received experience in school-based occupational therapy during a clinical fieldwork placement at The Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children from January-April 2013, in which I evaluated and treated pre-K and school-age students with visual impairment coupled with other serious physical and cognitive disabilities. In addition, I completed a clinical fieldwork at the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) Summer Camp in August 2012, implementing treatment interventions and activity modifications for children with various forms of muscular dystrophy. My additional fieldwork experience includes placements at: Shadyside Nursing and Rehabilitation Center from April—June 2013, evaluating and treating patients with a variety of diagnoses, UPMC Mercy from September—December 2012 in the acute care unit, and Community Human Services from January—April 2012, treating people with chronic mental illness.  
Several of my additional work experiences involved autism, an area of great interest for me. I worked as a therapeutic counselor at the John Merck Summer Therapeutic Inclusion Program (STIP) in 2008 and 2009, planning and implementing behavioral interventions and activity modifications for children with autism, as well as assisting with activities of daily living, sensory integration issues, and running social skills groups. I was also involved in the NIH-sponsored Pittsburgh Early Autism Study as a student researcher from January 2009—April 2010. I attained certification for Facial Action Coding System (FACS) and coded facial expressions in infants at a high risk for developing autism, with the goal of distinguishing characteristics for the earlier diagnosis of autism.  
In addition, I spent two weeks in August 2010 volunteering at Manos Unidas School for Special Education in Cusco, Peru. I assisted an American occupational therapist in treating children with various diagnoses and providing carryover education to the faculty at the school. I also completed community outreach services to local organizations and underprivileged families.
I look forward to another great year integrating my experiences and knowledge as an occupational therapist for students at Stewartsville, Hahntown, Sunset Valley, Hillcrest Intermediate and the Middle School.
Mrs. RizzoMrs. Lynne "Cricket" Rizzo MS, OTR/L, ATP
Phone: (724) 861-3025 ext. 6221
Degrees and Certifications:
B.S. Occupational TherapyM.S. Healthcare Supervision/ManagementAssistive Technology Professional

My name is Cricket Rizzo. I have worked in the Norwin School District since 2007 as an occupational therapist with the Westmoreland Intermediate Unit.  As of the 2013-2014 school year, I am now an official Norwin employee.  I graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in June, 1987 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Occupational Therapy.  I also received my Master of Science degree in Healthcare Supervision and Management in December, 1995 from the University of Pittsburgh. I obtained further certification as an Assistive Technology Professional in October, 1996 through RESNA - The Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America.
Prior to coming to Norwin, I worked for 7 years at the Westmoreland Intermediate Unit evaluating and treating early intervention and school age students.  Before working at the IU, I was employed at Healthsouth Harmarville Rehabilitation Hospital for 20 years.  While at Harmarville, I evaluated and treated individuals with many different disabilities including brain injury, spinal cord injury, stroke, amputations, and other neurologic conditions.  I also had the opportunity to coordinate recruitment of new staff and professional development of existing staff, in addition to managing the occupational therapy student program.  Over the many years of my career as an occupational therapist, I have had experience teaching at the university level at Pitt, Chatham, and Duquesne, as well as being a guest lecturer at Slippery Rock University, West Virginia University, and CCAC.  I currently serve on the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program Advisory Committee at CCAC. I will be providing occupational therapy services to students at Sheridan Terrace Elementary School, Sunset Valley Life Skills Program, Hillcrest Intermediate School Autistic Support and Life Skills Programs, Norwin Middle School Autistic Support and Life Skills Support, and Norwin High School.