Giving Up? Discontinuing Services Due to “No Improvement!”?

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My twin sons have autism. We have an IEP meeting tomorrow.  The boys’ Occupational Therapist/Physical therapist just called me and said that he was going to suggest to discontinue OT/PT services for the boys due to ‘no improvement’ for the past 2 years.

My boy’s therapy shouldn’t be canceled because they haven’t made improvement on goals!  They should not be allowed to ‘give up’ on them like this. And, why do they spring this on me 24 hours before the meeting?

If this issue does come up at the meeting and the school proposes to discontinue these services, you need to state that you object to this plan. State that you do not consent to the termination of these services.

The fact that your children have not made progress under the present program is evidence that they need more intensive services, not a discontinuation of services.

If the IEP team terminates services over your objections, you need to write a polite note to the school. You should:

  • describe your children’s disabilities
  • explain that this came as a complete surprise
  • explain that you learned about the plan to discontinue services a short time (24 hours) ahead of the IEP meeting
  • state that you do not agree or consent to this plan.

Procedural Safeguards

There are procedural safeguards for parents under these circumstances, but it’s too late for you to become an expert on this one day before the meeting. You need to do your homework now, then request another IEP meeting.

1. Learn about your son’s disability and your parental rights and responsibilities.

2. Get an OT and/or PT evaluation by an independent expert in the private sector – this expert should test your children and describe the services they need. Ask the evaluator to attend the next IEP meeting with you.

3. Request another meeting.

AFTER you have the evaluation and information in hand, and the evaluator has agreed to go to a meeting to educate the educators, you can request another IEP meeting.

  1. Why isn’t the rest of your boys’ team working on these goals as well? The therapists should not be the only people addressing these goals.
    There are separate providers for OT and PT right?

    The guidelines for my state say that if no progress is made we can recommend discontinuing service. That however is a team discussion, not the sole discretion for the therapist. Services should be reconfigured, and maybe the goals are not appropriate. Maybe their whole program needs to be looked at, the occupational and physical therapy are there to allow them to benefit from their program. I am guessing that its not just the related service goals that aren’t being met.

  2. my child has ADHD and also seems to get into trouble. the school has put my child under the microscope for minor behavior issues — they have blown it out of proportion. unfortunately, my child responded to a situation with the other child and is now suspended. he’s been placed on home instruction till placed (he’s been out since 9/22). the school if it sees a pattern of aggressiveness will try to kick him out by placing him out of district. it seems like parents have no rights and their children have no rights. I’ve written a letter and disagreed with the IEP. i’ve asked for independent evals, and an FBA. other than asking for mediation, due process and writing a complaint, good luck. it feels like the decision has already been made without our consent to place him OOD. i hope that you don’t have to go thru this.

  3. Angelique Have you considered requesting a behavior assessment from the school? YOu can do this in writing. We did and discovered that there were “triggers” that cause behavior issues with my youngest son. Once the assessment came back and we all go together it became more clear how to deal with him in the classroom. We also added the behavior plan to the IEP. This way the recommendations could be used no matter where my son was placed and would go from year to year. This may help.


    My son is in the SpEd program at the local public school. He hates being in a his resource room for classes and has problems with a kid in every one of his classes I talk to the teachers and they just say well (my son) aggravates the other child as much as he aggravates my son. I feel this is hindering my son’s education as well as the other boys and they are both staying in trouble my son more so. I do not know what to do any more. any advise anyone please

  5. Thank you Susan for listing the code. You prove my statement. If the special education service is for gen ed it is not a related service. If the sped service is for special ed it is a related service. This is often confused.

    For example, for a child to get to their special ed service they need to be driven – transportation would be a related service.

    If speech was arctic only they would not be a related service. Understanding this will help you see that often pts ot and slps are not related services.

  6. Ted- IDEA-300.34 Related Services. 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.

  7. Susan ot and pt are not necessarily a related service. They could be specially designed instruction necessary to participate in the general education curriculum. It matters how a related service is used.

  8. Virtually the same thing happened to us. You asked why they would spring it on you 24 hours before the meeting. They don’t want to give you time to think or react. They know you won’t have time to get any data together to challenge this. Don’t sign the IEP! You can sign that you attended the meeting, but put in writing somewhere on the IEP that you disagree with the findings. Get a copy of the IEP and what they are proposing before you leave. Ask for progress reports. Ask for a re-evaluation from the school. Go back to your physician and take all your information. Good luck and don’t give up!

  9. OT and PT services are related services. Related services help a student benefit from education. Why were these services in the IEP to begin with? There was data that showed the twins needed them in order to “benefit from education.” Where is the data? Ask for data that shows your twins no longer need OT/PT to benefit from education.

  10. What you can do in the future is to request Prior Written Notice ANYTIME they propose to change or refuse anything related to FAPE or your children’s IEP. They are required to do this by law, but most schools will not provide this to the parents unless it’s requested. It will force them to put their reasons in writing and it is unlikely that they would actually say they are discontinuing services because there is no improvement. That’s like admitting that what they have provided is not sufficient/appropriate for your children’s individual needs.

  11. Find a parent advocate specializing in IEP’s and the special education process in your county. Mine helped my family tremendously. I have 3 w/disabilities in school. It’s completely worth it because I’m not an expert, nor is my husband and my advocate is. She knows everything there is to know about policies and regulations not only in my state but county as well. Good luck!

  12. Even if services are proposed to be discontinued, and the team agrees, at that IEP meeting that change would not be applied until 10 days after that meeting per prior written notice requirements, unless you sign to waive 10-day notice. If the OT/PT are content to discontinue I would advise you request a reevaluation to determine your son’s skills and if OT/PT services are warranted. Typically a school has a weak case by dismissing a student from any services without reevaluation in that area to show present levels are adequate. I would caution against an outside OT/PT eval until the school completes a reeval. If you disagree with that reeval then pursue an independent evaluation at public expense.

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