I know that services like occupational therapy or counseling are delivered to children in a variety of settings such as a hospital, clinic, home or school. Regardless of setting, therapy is therapy, right?
Actually, no. Related service providers are appropriately trained and licensed no matter where they work, but the missions of the agency, school or clinic where the therapists work are often different. With that in mind, the type and goals of therapy may be very different from one setting to another.
Therapeutic services provided in the educational setting according to an IEP must be directed toward the achievement of functional tasks required for children to participate and benefit from their education. Therapy provided in a medical setting, such as at a hospital or clinic, tends to focus on specific goals that may not relate directly to educational performance.
It may be helpful or necessary for children to receive services both at school and in a medical setting, as their IEP services are delivered in school, and they are supported by community-based or medical providers elsewhere to meet their needs that extend beyond the educational setting.
Keep in mind that your child’s IEP is a fluid document - it can and should change to respond to your child's evolving needs to ensure that those needs are met in the least restrictive environment possible. The goals for any related service on the IEP always should be school-based and educationally focused.