Under the IDEA (http://idea.ed.gov/) a child who is found eligible may receive special education and related services designed to meet his/her unique needs and prepare them for employment and independent living. While special education services focus on specifically designed instruction, related services can mean any supportive service necessary to assist a child with a disability in benefiting from special education.

Related services include, but are not limited to: audiology, counseling, sign language, interpreting, occupational therapy, orientation and mobility, parent counseling and training, physical therapy, psychological services, including psychotherapy, to assist in developing positive behavioral intervention strategies, speech and language therapy and transportation.

The important thing to consider is that a related service can be any service needed by the child to benefit from his/her education and advance appropriately toward annual education goals, to participate in extracurricular and non-academic activities and to be educated with both disabled and non-disabled peers.  What constitutes “benefiting”? Our courts have ruled that a child in special education “benefits” if they progress commensurate with their abilities.  So a child may need a related service not only to avoid regression but also to improve.

It is the IEP team’s responsibility to identify any related services the child needs and include them in the IEP.  Goals can be written for related services just as any other special education service. The IEP must specify

  • When the service will begin
  • How often it will be provided
  • Where it will be provided

Related services can also be separately required to insure a child is given the opportunity to be in a regular classroom.