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What are IEP Related Services in Special Education | Definition | Eligibility

According to IDEA, these are the related services in Special Education.

  • audiology
  • counseling services
  • early identification
  • family training-counseling and home visits
  • health services
  • medical services
  • nursing services
  • nutrition services
  • occupational therapy
  • orientation and mobility services
  • parent counseling and training
  • physical therapy
  • psychological services
  • recreation and therapeutic recreation
  • rehabilitative counseling services
  • interpretation services
  • school health services
  • service coordination services
  • social work services in schools
  • speech pathology and speech-language pathology
  • transportation and related costs
  • assistive technology and services
related services on the IEP

That is not an exhaustive list and their are exceptions. And then there are exceptions to the exceptions.

For example, implanting and maintaining a cochlear implant is specifically excluded. However, if the child needs an AT device, such as an FM system, to hear the teachers, and the FM system connects to the cochlear implants, then yes that is included.

  • Help them participate in the general education curriculum with their peers
  • Meet their annual educational goals
  • Take part in extracurricular and nonacademic activities

Ok, great. You’re likely thinking “I see, but what does it mean?”

Oh, I am so glad you asked!

In my head, I view an IEP as kinda two separate kingdoms. Huh? What do I mean by that?

Here’s how I separate it out in my brain. Think of Special Education/IEPs as being two different kingdoms. You know how we have the plant and animal kingdom? Sorta like that.

Except these two kingdoms are Related Services and Everything Else. (I’m still working on a catchy name for the second kingdom)

But seriously, think of it this way. Your child’s IEP consists of two main components.

One large component is the Specially Designed Instruction (SDIs) or Special Education.

99% of the time, the execution of that specialized instruction is Teacher—>Student. Right?

So Why Separate It Out?

Once you start to think of it as two separate kingdoms, it kind of makes sense, doesn’t it? You wouldn’t expect your child’s teacher to provide OT, nor would you expect your child’s OT to teach your child math.

The Related Services are there to help your child access and benefit from their education.

Keep in mind, that from start to finish, the entire school district and all of their related service staff (even if contracted out) are responsible for the IEP.

That doesn’t mean that the bus driver provides therapy, but they should be aware of things like behavior plans (especially if behaviors occur on the bus!) and seizure action plans in case of an emergency.

The entire school district may not be directly responsible for providing instruction or services, they are required to provide the accommodations.

This is what IDEA says about Related Services.

Statute/Regs Main » Regulations » Part B » Subpart A » Section 300.34

300.34 Related services.(a) General. Related services means transportation and such developmental, corrective, and other supportive services as are required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education, and includes speech-language pathology and audiology services, interpreting services, psychological services, physical and occupational therapy, recreation, including therapeutic recreation, early identification and assessment of disabilities in children, counseling services, including rehabilitation counseling, orientation and mobility services, and medical services for diagnostic or evaluation purposes. Related services also include school health services and school nurse services, social work services in schools, and parent counseling and training.

(b) Exception; services that apply to children with surgically implanted devices, including cochlear implants.

(1) Related services do not include a medical device that is surgically implanted, the optimization of that device’s functioning (e.g., mapping), maintenance of that device, or the replacement of that device.

Like anything else, you have to demonstrate need. A child who receives a specialized reading program for dyslexia does not automatically qualify for Speech or OT.

A child can be eligible for only Special Education and not any of the Related Services. An example would be a student whose only areas of need are related to dyslexia, and the child only needs reading instruction.

And, working in reverse, a child can have a disability that only requires PT or OT or Speech, and not any special instruction in academics.

Make sure you check your state’s regs regarding Related Services. I have all of them on a spreadsheet at the end of this post.

This is where it gets a little tricky, as it is left up to the states.

related services special ed

I’m not a huge fan of this, as the overall determination is still left up to the states.

You want to check your specific state regs (below). But, per IDEA, yes, a para or aide can provide related services. Unless the IEP specifically states that the professionally licensed therapist is to deliver the services, they can designate the list of exercises to do with an Aide or Assistant if the state’s practicing guidelines permit it.

Your child’s IEP should also specify:

  • when the service will begin
  • how often it will be provided and for what amount of time (service hours)
  • where it will be provided [§300.320(a)(7)]

This is why it is so important to go through your child’s IEP with a fine-toothed comb. I have seen soooo many Moms flip to related services. Everyone wants to know what their child is going to “get.”

But what often gets overlooked as far as Related Services in an IEP:

  • Will services be group or individual?
  • Will the services be push in or pull out?
  • What are the arrangements for missed hours?

I have seen literally hundreds of IEP disputes over these issues. The parent assumes it is individual, when it is not. Or, there is nothing in place to make up absences (particularly if not the student’s fault) and parents are left scrambling trying to gain time.

A Few Hidden Gems in IDEA

If you want to read all of IDEA and the section on Related Services, I’ve provided a link below. However, as with all of IDEA and the discussion booklet, there are useful nuggets of information in there.

IDEA related services
  • In the last sentence above, you can see that it includes “parent counseling and training.” This is what you point to, if you are trying to get this on your IEP.
  • IDEA defines expectations or uses words like “qualified” in reference to therapists.
  • Under social work, you will see that one of their defined roles is assisting with behavior plans. Huh, how about that? Just might be helpful for you to point that out, if you are trying to get an IEE for your FBA. I mean, if they didn’t even use IDEA’s best practices for your child’s behavior plan, could be grounds for an IEE.
  • For the last time, and I’m going to say it loud for the people in the back: YES, transportation is a part of an IEP. Or at least it can be, if the child needs it to access their education.

Ok, wrapping up. Related services is a huge portion of many IEPs. And, like every other support and service on an IEP, they are needs driven. If you are trying to get one of these related services on your child’s IEP, it all starts with getting the need defined in present levels. And that often starts with IEP evaluations.

Good Luck!

Guidance Letters from OSEP on Related Services.

related services on the IEP
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