Occupational Therapy

Our goal in OT is to have fun with the students while working on improving their fine and visual motor skills. We try to start or end our sessions with something pleasurable that builds a connection between the student and therapist. Of course this is different for each person but often includes movement, song, and deep pressure touch in some combination. 

In OT sessions we do many different kinds of activities that help our students build strength in their arms and hands.  We ride scooters lying on our tummy and pushing with our arms. We push and pull things. We work with pegs, blocks, pop and stringing beads, and putty.  We learn to draw lines and shapes, do mazes and trace and cut with scissors. We begin to write letters, our name and then words and sentences. We paint and do seasonal and holiday crafts.  

Some learn to type. Others learn to use eye gaze. Everyone works and learns.

The occupational therapist that serves the students at Laurel is Deborah Friedman, OTR/L. She has over 17 years of experience working with children of all abilities in both schools and clinics. She has a special interest in working with young people with autism and has training in Sensory Integration and Floor Time.

Physical Therapy

Here at LAUREL physical therapy staff spends time in each classroom consulting with the teaching staff regarding proper positioning for our students in seating and/or standing equipment for access to educational materials. We provide recommendations regarding sensory input to maximize student learning, and assist students with various movement experiences, including participation in adapted PE and access on the playground.

Karen Zylstra/PT and Kelly Mason/PTA provide physical therapy services for students here at LAUREL as  well as Lynchburg City, Amherst County, and Appomattox County Public Schools. In the educational setting physical therapy as a related service works with students to improve their functional mobility to enable them to access and participate in school to the fullest extent possible.

The PT department is committed to working in collaboration with our adapted PE teacher to instill in our students and their families a love for physical activity for a lifetime, and to help them develop an appreciation for the many community opportunities available in this regard.


Speech language pathologists are trained professionals who work to identify, assess, evaluate, refer, and to provide therapy for individuals who have articulation, voice, fluency, expressive language, receptive language, and related disorders.

Speech language pathologists in the public school setting work to remediate communication disorders that affect how a student will perform in school-related activities, including social interaction, functional skills, and academics.

At LAUREL, students receive speech services either in an individual session or in a group setting. Both individual and group sessions can occur in the classroom or in the speech therapy room. The service model is determined by the IEP committee. 


LAUREL Regional Program provides vision services to eligible students in those participating school systems that utilize these services.

Visual services are offered to students with visual impairments which, even after correction, adversely affects the child’s educational performance. The focus of the program is for the student to participate in his regular program to the fullest extent possible. Orientation and mobility instruction is offered through the Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired.