Struggling During Recess & School Activities? Address PBIS in the IEP

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My daughter has autism.  She has difficulty relating to other kids, she struggles at recess.  She wants to participate in after school activities, but needs help. I was told that PBIS does not apply to recess and other activities.

Can I bring this up at the IEP meeting and ask the school to provide someone to help her?


IDEA Findings. Congress find the following:

(5) Almost 30 years of research and experience has demonstrated that the education of children with disabilities can be made more effective by-

(F) providing incentives for whole-school approaches, … positive behavioral interventions and supports, … to reduce the need to label children as disabled in order to address the learning and behavioral needs of such children. (1400(c)(5)(F))

Turn to your law book, p. 103, 20 U.S.C. Section 1414(d)(3).

(3) Development of IEP.

(B) Consideration of Special Factors. The IEP Team shall-

(i) in the case of a child whose behavior impedes the child’s learning or that of others, consider the use of positive behavioral interventions and supports, and other strategies, to address that behavior;

The schools tell parents they are not required to provide assistance for these school activities since they occur after school, take place off the school grounds, or do not involve academics.

Goals, accommodations, and supplementary aids and services include both the social and behavioral area, (social skills development, peer support, interaction, friendship) as well as academics and instruction.

The IEP team must determine which activities are appropriate and include them in the IEP. These activities are not limited to “academic” activities that “educate the child.”

Your child’s IEP should identify all of her needs, to provide supplementary aids and services to help her “participate in extracurricular & other nonacademic activities”. 34 CFR 300.320(a)(4)(ii). (p. 245)

Recess is included as a nonacademic activity, as well as extracurricular activities and clubs. 34 CFR 300.117 (p 208)

2016 US Department of Education Guidance (08/01/16)

In August 2016, OSEP issued Guidance on the use of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, and other strategies, to address behavior. IDEA requires schools to consider and provide for needed behavioral supports through the IEP process. OSEP warns that failing this requirement is likely to result in a child not receiving a meaningful educational benefit or FAPE.

The IEP team must consider your child’s functional needs, as well as developmental and academic needs, and assess your child in all areas including social and emotional status if appropriate.

The new guidance clarifies that behavioral supports may be required as part of your child’s special ed or related services to enable her to participate in extracurricular and other nonacademic activities. 34 CFR 300.320(a)(4)(i) and (ii). Includes provision of supplementary aids and services in extracurricular and nonacademic settings. 34 CFR 300 -114-300.116.–08-01-2016.pdf

Request an IEP Meeting to Consider PBIS

Get up to speed on PBIS in the IEP.

Read the US Department of Education Q and A on Discipline. (Print a copy for the IEP Team)

Question E-3:    How can an IEP address behavior?

Answer:    When a child’s behavior impedes the child’s learning or that of others, the IEP Team must consider the use of positive behavioral interventions and supports, and other strategies, to address that behavior (34 CFR §300.324(a)(2)(i)).  Additionally, the Team may address the behavior through annual goals in the IEP (34 CFR §300.320(a)(2)(i)).  The child’s IEP may include modifications in his or her program, support for his or her teachers, and any related services necessary to achieve those behavioral goals (34 CFR §300.320(a)(4)).  If the child needs a BIP to improve learning and socialization, the BIP can be included in the IEP and aligned with the goals in the IEP. 




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I suggest you make a list of ways that the difficulties your daughter experiences relating to fellow students affect her learning. It’s helpful if you can tie the recess difficulties to things like cooperative education activities in the classroom. Look at your state’s learning standards for her grade level, especially ELA and math, and quote from them in your meeting. For example, in New York, the ELA standards say, “Participate cooperatively and collaboratively in group discussions of texts.” It might help to start with a parent teacher conference, where you could collect specific feedback about your daughter’s ability to participate in group projects and discussions.