Understanding Related Services on the IEP, for parents.

IEP related services school textbooks

Related Services on the IEP

What are the related services on an IEP?

For starters, here is what is considered a Related Service on your IEP.

  • 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

Ok, great. You’re likely thinking “I see, that’s a list of the related services, but what does it mean?”

Oh, I am so glad you asked!

IEP related services

Here’s how I separate it out in my brain. Think of Special Education and the IEP 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?

Related Services “Everything Else”

Everything else on your child’s IEP is implemented by a non-teacher. If you look at that list above, most of the time that service is provided by a professional, but not a teacher.

So why separate it out?

I’m working on a blog post and series of podcasts to discuss the discussion booklet that goes along with IDEA. I’m sure it’s in there, so I don’t want to go into detail as to why Related Services was separated out from the actual teaching and education portion of IDEA.

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.

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.

Eligibility for Related Services

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, and vice versa.

Make sure you check your state’s regs regarding Related Services.

related services special ed

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

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!

Links for you:

IEP Related Services: wording in IDEA

Guidance Letters from OSEP on Related Services.

IEP related services school textbooks

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