My daughter has autism. She has trouble connecting with other kids in recess and other school activities. She wants to participate in after school activities but she will need help. The team said Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) don’t apply to recess and other non-academic activities.
Can I request an IEP meeting to ask the school to provide a person who can help her learn social skills?
Yes. When Congress reauthorized the IDEA, they made several findings about how the law was implemented. They found that for special ed to be effective, schools needed to provide positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) to children with special needs.
Almost 30 years of research and experience has demonstrated that the education of children with disabilities can be made more effective by … 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))
Open your law book and turn to page 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 social and behavioral areas (social skills development, peer support, interaction, friendship) in addition to academics and instruction.
The IEP team needs to identify appropriate activities for your child and include them in the IEP. These activities are not limited to “academic” activities to “educate the child.”
Your child’s IEP should identify all her needs and provide supplementary aids and services to help her “participate in extracurricular & other nonacademic activities”. 34 CFR 300.320(a)(4)(ii). (p. 245)
Recess, extracurricular activities and clubs are “nonacademic activities.” 34 CFR 300.117 (p 208)
US Department of Education Issues Guidance (08/01/16)
In 2016, the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) issued Guidance on the Use of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports to address children’s behavior issues. IDEA requires schools to provide behavioral interventions as part of the IEP process. In this Guidance, the Office of Special Education Programs warns that a failure to to provide these interventions is likely to mean a child is not receiving a free appropriate public education (FAPE) and meaningful educational benefit, as IDEA requires.
OK, But What Does That Mean for Me?
The IEP team is required to assess your child in all areas, including her social and emotional status. The team needs to provide ways to meet her functional needs, in addition to her developmental and academic needs.
The new guidance clarifies that Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports may be a required component of your child’s special education program, in addition to related services. The overall goal is to enable the child to participate in extracurricular and non-academic activities. 34 CFR 300.320(a)(4)(i) and (ii). This includes providing supplementary aids and services in extracurricular and nonacademic settings. 34 CFR 300 -114-300.116.
You Can Request an IEP Meeting to Consider PBIS
You need to understand the role of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support in the IEP.
As you review the US Department of Education’s Q and A on Discipline. (Print a copy for the IEP Team), take a look at Question E-3:
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.