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. 

Tips for Parents: Incorporating Positive Behavior Support into the IEP

PBIS: Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports, OSEP Technical Assistance Center

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09/18/2020 1:44 pm

My son is autistic and bi polar. He has great difficulty relating to peers. School has taken away his recess and class trips. The reasoning is that the other kids need a break from him. Other kids seem to not like my son and he is excluded from play dates with the kids on the weekends. Can the school help me in anyway with the play dates on the weekends? He is desperate to have friends.

09/21/2020 12:54 pm
Reply to  Oliver

Yes they could. The issue is: do they know how to, & want to. Schools are to address the needs of students with disabilities. That includes social skills deficits. I suggest asking in writing for an IEP meeting to develop a plan to do this. If the school does not have any one who can help with this, there will be people in the area or state who can. You can connect with Autism groups, or your state parent training & information center to get information on helping your child & working with the school.

05/09/2018 1:30 pm

My grandson was recently told he would not be a participant in class field trips (5 were scheduled for the week) unless a parent or family member would accompany him due to behavior. Should this have been addressed in our IEP?

05/09/2018 10:53 pm
Reply to  Cathy

Did the school give you a reason why? They cannot just decide to not include your grandson. He has every right to participate as any other child. You mention an IEP you may want to look into having a FBA functional behavioral assessment done and BIP behavioral intervention plan put together. This should have been addressed at the the meeting and an IEP meeting can be bought up at anytime. Changes can be me to the IEP as you see fit. I would meet with the school and find out what is going on.

04/25/2018 3:29 pm

Where can I find resources about how to use PBIS for improving behavior of my son in the classroom? Our schools seems to be using it differently than this article talks about.

04/24/2018 4:06 pm

Does anyone have any insight regarding children who have a diagnosed disability being excluded from certain activities due to behavior related to child’s disability.

04/24/2018 9:48 am

I was told that the paraprofessionals are on an hourly contract and are not able to go beyond the contract hours. Does this sound correct? What about the district not being able to have them work after school hours if the para did not want to????

04/27/2018 7:49 am
Reply to  MIMI

It depends more on contracts, school culture. etc. In my work as a para (union organized), my hours were only during the school day. Some paras would get contracted for after school programs but many were grant funded and not part of their school contract. Principals also had some flexibility in placement and hours assigned. I do remember an issue where a teacher had me attend a PPT meeting to manage the student as the student was present. The meeting went past my work hours and my union leader interrupted the meeting and dismissed me from that meeting. I left. The union leader felt that I was done and it was the parents or teacher’s job to manage the student during their hours as my pay day had ended.

03/25/2018 5:02 pm

Absolutely bring up any concerns at the IEP meeting. That is what the meeting is for in addition to revising the IEP. As far as after school clubs go the IEP team is to determine everything that your daughter needs in order to receive FAPE and clubs are a part of it. Sit with your daughter and make a list of things that interest her and see if you can find some clubs at school that speak to her. If not you can look for clubs outside of school to keep her confidence up and interacting with other kids her age.

02/23/2017 7:24 pm

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.