Isn’t it funny how a school-based OT can know specific concepts that are totally unfamiliar to a clinic-based OT? Even if you’ve been an occupational therapist for years, you might have never heard of an LRE. If you’re interested in being a school-based OT, though, it’s an important term to know. Find out what LRE stands for and how to use embedded/integrated services in school-based OT.
LRE stands for Least Restrictive Environment. Passed in 1975, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (or IDEA) says that students who get special education should learn in the least restrictive environment (LRE) possible. That means that, whenever possible, students should learn alongside their peers who receive general education. The key thing is what’s appropriate — kids who can be included in general education without disrupting their education should absolutely be in the classroom with their peers. Which means that, as an OT, part of your job is helping your students learn and live alongside other kids as seamlessly as possible.
The term “least restrictive environment” is open to a lot of interpretation: by you, by the school, and by the child’s parents. You should absolutely cover what an appropriate treatment plan entails in your IEP. To make sure everyone is on the same page, give examples of what a LRE will look like for your student from day-to-day with different activities and subjects. Be sure to discuss what the term LRE means to parents who are unfamiliar with the IDEA guidelines.
Learning in a LRE may present a few challenges for some students. What some OTs love most is the ability to be creative! As a school-based OT, there are infinite ways to adapt your treatment plans to make them fun and engaging for your students. Here are some ways you can help your students in an environment with kids of all backgrounds.
School-based occupational therapists help kids achieve goals essential for day-to-day living. Interested in finding out more about school-based opportunities? See all available OT positions here!
By Aubrey Schieuer