Children with disabilities--Education--United States; Students with disabilities; Parents of children with disabilities; Children with disabilities--Care--United States; Medical personnel--caregiver relationships; Caregivers--Family relationships--United States


OBJECTIVE: Many occupational therapists work in public schools, where best practices and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA 2004) require collaboration with parents of students. However, there is limited research indicating the benefits and barriers to this collaboration. The present study explores the nature and extent of contact and collaboration between school-based occupational therapists and parents of children who are beginning occupational therapy services in public schools. It includes therapists’ perceptions of facilitators and barriers to and beliefs about collaboration.

METHOD: Descriptive surveys were mailed to a random national sample of 250 occupational therapists members of the Early Intervention and Schools Special Interest Section of the American Occupation Therapy Association.

RESULTS: The response rate was 40.4%, with 75 useable surveys out of 101 total responses. Most respondents believed that collaboration with parents improves student outcomes. Despite busy schedules, they reported taking time and using effective approaches to increase parent collaboration for information exchange and building trusting relationships. Therapist and parent availability were frequently seen as barriers to collaboration.

CONCLUSIONS: More research and education on strategies for overcoming barriers to parent collaboration could improve outcomes for children receiving school-based occupational therapy and build trust between their parents and the school teams.

First Advisor

Yvonne Swinth, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA

Second Advisor

Martins Linauts, PhD

Date of Completion

Spring 2013

Degree Type







Degree Name

Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (MSOT)

Date of Award



Occupational Therapy


University of Puget Sound