It’s About Time! | School-based Therapy

Jean Polichino, OTR, MS, FAOTA   

Senior Director, School Based Therapy Services, HCDE 

 ​It's About Time!


What is a Therapist’s Obligation for Making Up Missed Therapy Sessions?  


As with many things in special education, the answer to the question, “Do we have to make up missed therapy sessions?” is, “It depends.”  

The significant factor in determining how to proceed can be found in the reason for the missed session.  If a session is missed because the therapist was ill, a special assembly was held, or because the student’s sessions are scheduled on Mondays when holidays result in school closure, it is the responsibility of the school district to ensure those sessions are made up. The therapist should allow for flexibility within his or her own schedule for make-up visits as the need for them is an inevitable reality in school practice. 
If, on the other hand, the occasional missed visit is due to the student’s absence, there is no legal obligation to make up the visit. Having said that, most school districts will want therapists to make a good faith effort to make up the missed session as it is in the student’s best interest to do so.
On those rare occasions when a student is chronically absent, school attorneys advise convening an ARD/IEP meeting to reconsider the IEP. All services are impacted by chronic absences, so it is likely that goals/objectives would need to be revised and the time, frequency and duration of needed services will need to be adjusted. 

In all cases, therapists should document the missed session and the reason it occurred. In cases of chronic absences, therapists should communicate what is occurring to the special education administration and plan together with campus personnel so that appropriate action is taken.