Home > Topics > Related Services > Related Services - A Closer Look
[Note from Wrightslaw: This article is taken from "Related Services", a publication of the National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities (NICHCY) For more information about publications from NICHCY, please see info & links at end of this article.]
Perhaps the best way to develop an understanding of related services is to look at each in more detail. Because there are quite a few services that can be considered as "related services," the information presented about each of the following related services is intended only as an introduction. It is not the intent of this document, just as it is not the intent of the law, to exhaustively describe each related service. It may be helpful, however, to read further about the services in order to know what related services are most commonly provided to students with disabilities and, in some situations, their families. The related services described below are organized in alphabetical order.
Artistic/cultural programs are specifically mentioned in the federal regulations for IDEA as "other developmental, corrective, or supportive services (such as artistic and cultural programs, art, music, and dance therapy) if they are required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education in order for the child to receive FAPE" (U.S. Department of Education, 1999a, p. 12548). Artistic and cultural programs are designed by art therapists, dance therapists, and music therapists to address the individual needs of students with disabilities. These professionals:
Art therapy provides individuals with disabilities with a means of self-expression and opportunities to expand personal creativity and control. By involving students with art and the creative art process, art therapists work to help students address their unique needs, which may include resolving emotional conflicts, developing self-awareness or social skills, managing behavior, solving problems, reducing anxiety, and improving self-esteem (American Art Therapy Association, 2000).
Dance/movement therapy uses movement as a means for promoting personal growth and furthering the emotional, cognitive, and physical integration of an individual (American Dance Therapy Association, 1998). Dance therapy can develop and promote good posture, discipline, concentration, coordination, agility, speed, balance, strength, and endurance.
Music therapy uses music and music-related strategies to assist or motivate a student to reach specific educational goals as well as address his or her physical, psychological, cognitive, behavioral, and social needs (American Music Therapy Association, 2000). Music and music learning are often used to strengthen nonmusical areas such as academic skills, physical coordination, communication, sensory-motor development, expression of emotions, and stress reduction.
Assistive Technology Devices and Services
technology (AT) refers to various types of devices and services designed
to help students with disabilities function within their environments.
An assistive technology device means "any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of a child with a disability" (Section 300.5). Assistive technology devices may be used for personal care, sensory processing of information, communication, mobility, or leisure. For young children, assistive technology may involve adaptive toys or simple computer software games to stimulate eye-hand coordination (Derer, Polsgrove, & Rieth, 1996). For other children, it may involve adaptive eating utensils, electronic augmentative communication devices, or a voice-activated word processing software program.
An assistive technology service means "...any service that directly assists a child with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device" (Section 300.6). School districts are responsible for helping individuals with disabilities select and acquire appropriate assistive technology devices and train them in their use, if doing so is necessary for them to receive FAPE (Section 300.308). Such services include:
Rothstein and Everson (1995) suggest several guidelines for decision making regarding assistive technology, including:
Consideration of a child's need for assistive technology devices and services occurs on a case-by-case basis in connection with the development of a child's IEP. Thus, when an IEP of a student with a disability is being developed, reviewed, or revised (if appropriate), the IEP team must determine his or her need for an assistive technology device or service, determine those devices that will facilitate the student's education, and list them in the IEP. The public agency must then provide them to the student at no cost to the parents.
a child use a school-purchased AT device in his or her home or other
Some schools have hearing screening programs and staff trained to conduct audiologic screenings of children. Others may participate in regional cooperatives or other arrangements that provide audiological services. Those school districts that do not have diagnostic facilities to evaluate students for hearing loss and related communication problems or central auditory processing disorders may refer students to a clinical setting, such as a hospital or audiology clinic, or make other contractual arrangements (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, personal communication, August 1, 2000).
services, according to the American School Counselor Association
(1999), focus on the needs, interests, and issues related to various
stages of student growth.
Counseling services are services provided by qualified social workers, psychologists, guidance counselors, or other qualified personnel [Section 300.24(b)(2)]. A school counselor is a certified professional who meets the State's certification standards. In some schools, the counselor may also perform some functions similar to those of the school psychologist as described below under Psychological Services.
Medical services are considered a related service only under specific conditions. By definition, the term "means services provided by a licensed physician to determine a child's medically related disability that results in the child's need for special education and related services" [Section 300.24(b)(4)]. Thus, medical services are provided (a) by a licensed physician, and (b) for diagnostic or evaluation purposes only.
Occupational therapy (OT) services can enhance a student's ability to function in an educational program. These services are "provided by a qualified occupational therapist" and include:
Occupational therapy services in schools may include such services as:
Orientation and Mobility Services
According to Hill and Snook-Hill (1996), orientation involves knowing where you are, where you are going, and how to get to a destination by interpreting information in the environment, while mobility involves moving safely through the environment. IDEA '97 added orientation and mobility (O&M) services to the list of related services specified at Section 300.24.
O&M services are defined as "services provided to blind or visually impaired students by qualified personnel to enable those students to attain systematic orientation to and safe movement within their environments in school, home, and community" [Section 300.24(b)(6)(i)]. This includes teaching students the following, as appropriate:
Attachment 1 to the regulations discusses why O&M services are not appropriate for students with disabilities other than visual impairments and draws a distinction between O&M services and what is commonly referred to as travel training.
[S]ome children with disabilities other than visual impairments need travel training if they are to safely and effectively move within and outside their school environment, but these students (e.g., children with significant cognitive disabilities) do not need orientation and mobility services as that term is defined in these regulations. 'Orientation and mobility services' is a term of art that is expressly related to children with visual impairments, and includes services that must be provided by qualified personnel who are trained to work with those children. (U.S. Department of Education, 1999a, p. 12549)
children with disabilities other than those with visual impairments
who need assistance in learning how to safely navigate a variety of
settings would generally not receive O&M services but, rather, travel
The term means "providing instruction, as appropriate, to children with significant cognitive disabilities, and any other children with disabilities who require this instruction, to enable them to---
Develop an awareness of the environment in which they live; and
Parent Counseling and Training
Parent counseling and training is an important related service that can help parents enhance the vital role they play in the lives of their children. When necessary to help an eligible student with a disability benefit from the educational program, parent counseling and training can include:
The last aspect---that of helping parents acquire necessary skills to support the implementation of their child's IEP or IFSP---is new in IDEA '97 and was added to:
...recognize the more active role acknowledged for parents...[as] very important participants in the education process for their children. Helping them gain the skills that will enable them to help their children meet the goals and objectives of their IEP or IFSP will be a positive change for parents, will assist in furthering the education of their children, and will aid the schools as it will create opportunities to build reinforcing relationships between each child's educational program and out-of-school learning. (U.S. Department of Education, 1999a, p. 12549)
therapy means "services provided by a qualified physical therapist"
[Section 300.24(b)(8)]. These services generally address a child's posture,
muscle strength, mobility, and organization of movement in educational
services are delivered as a related service when necessary to
help eligible students with disabilities benefit from their special
'97 requires that, in the case of a child whose behavior impedes his
or her learning or that of others, the IEP team consider, if appropriate,
strategies (including positive behavioral interventions, strategies,
and supports) to address that behavior [Section 300.346(a)(2)(i)].
Psychologists and school social workers may be involved in assisting in developing these positive behavioral intervention strategies. However, as the U.S. Department of Education (1999a) notes: "[T]here are many other appropriate professionals in a school district who might also play a role...These examples of personnel who may assist in this activity are not intended to imply either that school psychologists and social workers are automatically qualified to perform these duties or to prohibit other qualified personnel from serving in this role, consistent with State requirements" (p. 12550).
services generally are intended to help students with disabilities
learn how to use their leisure and recreation time constructively. Through
these services, students can learn appropriate and functional recreation
and leisure skills (Schleien, Green, & Heyne, 1993).
activities generally may fall into one or more of the following classifications:
As part of providing this related service, persons qualified to provide recreation carry out activities such as:
Rehabilitation Counseling Services
Rehabilitation counseling services are "services provided by qualified personnel in individual or group sessions that focus specifically on career development, employment preparation, achieving independence, and integration in the workplace and community.... The term also includes vocational rehabilitation services provided to a student with disabilities by vocational rehabilitation programs funded under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended." [Section 300.24(b)(11)]
The role of the rehabilitation counselor, according to the Council on Rehabilitation Education (1996), is to provide students with disabilities "assistance to their vocation, social, and personal functioning through the use of professionally recognized interaction skills and other appropriate services" (p. 36). To this end, rehabilitation counseling services generally may include:
School Health Services
health services under the IDEA '97 final regulations means "services
provided by a qualified school nurse or other qualified person" [Section
300.24(b)(12)]. These services may be necessary because some children
and youth with disabilities would otherwise be unable to attend a day
of school without supportive health care.
Typically, school health services are provided by a qualified school nurse or other qualified trained person who is supervised by a qualified nurse. In some instances, if a school nurse is not employed by a school district, health services may be provided and/or coordinated by a public health nurse, a pediatric home care nurse, or a hospital- or community-based pediatric nurse practitioner or specialist. States and local school districts often have guidelines that address school health services. State agency guidelines that address school health services for special health care needs may address staffing requirements, infection control, medication administration, nursing procedures, classroom modifications, transportation, and policies (Porter, Haynie, Bierle, Caldwell, & Palfrey, 1997).
Possible school health services include:
Social Work Services in Schools
Issues or problems at home or in the community can adversely affect a student's performance at school, as can a student's attitudes or behaviors in school. Social work services in schools may become necessary in order to help a student benefit from his or her educational program. Social work services in schools includes:
Speech-Language Pathology Services
Speech-language pathology services are provided by speech-language professionals and speech-language assistants in accordance with State regulations, to address the needs of children and youth with communication disabilities. Under the IDEA regulations, these services include:
Transportation as a related service is included in an eligible student's IEP if the IEP team determines that such a service is needed. Transportation includes:
Public school districts must provide transportation to students with disabilities in two situations. These are:
If the IEP team determines that a student with a disability needs transportation to benefit from special education, it must be included in the student's IEP and provided as a related service at no cost to the student and his or her parents (Office of Special Education Programs, 1995).
Not all students with disabilities are eligible to receive transportation as a related service. As Attachment 1 of the Federal regulations for IDEA '97 points out:
It is assumed that most children with disabilities will receive the same transportation provided to nondisabled children, unless the IEP team determines otherwise. However, for some children with disabilities, integrated transportation may not be achieved unless needed accommodations are provided to address each child's unique needs. If the IEP team determines that a disabled child requires transportation as a related service in order to receive FAPE, or requires accommodations or modifications to participate in integrated transportation with nondisabled children, the child must receive the necessary transportation or accommodations at no cost to the parents. This is so, even if no transportation is provided to nondisabled children. (U.S. Department of Education, 1999a, p. 12551)
A student's need for transportation as a related service and the type of transportation to be provided must be discussed and decided by the IEP team. Whether transportation goals and objectives are required in the IEP depends on the purpose of the transportation. If transportation is being provided solely to and from school, in and around school, and between schools, no goals or objectives are needed. If instruction is provided to a student to increase his or her independence or improve his or her behavior during transportation, then goals and objectives must be included in the student's IEP (Office of Special Education Programs, 1995).
American Art Therapy Association. (2000). Art therapy: Definition of a profession [On-line]. Available: www.arttherapy.org/definitions.htm
American Dance Therapy Association. (1998). Dance/movement therapy: Frequently asked/answered questions (FAQ) [On-line]. Available: www.citi.net/ADTA/adtafaq.htm
American Music Therapy Association. (2000). Frequently asked questions about music therapy [On-line]. Available: www.musictherapy.org/faqs.html
American Occupational Therapy Association (1999). Occupational therapy services for children and youth under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (2nd ed.). Bethesda, MD: Author.
American School Counselor Association. (1999). The role of the professional school counselor [On-line]. Available: www.schoolcounselor.org/role.htm
Council on Rehabilitation Education. (1996). Accreditation manual for rehabilitation counselor education programs. Rolling Meadows, IL: Author.
Derer, K., Polsgrove, L., & Rieth, H. (1996). A survey of assistive technology applications in schools and recommendations for practice. Journal of Special Education Technology, XIII(2), 62-80.
Dunn, W. (1991). Consultation as a process: How, when and why? In C. Royeen (Ed.), School-based practice for related services. Bethesda, MD: American Occupational Therapy Association.
Dwyer, K. (1997, November). School psychology and behavioral interventions. Communique, 26(3), 1, 4-5.
Fox, L., Vaughn, B., Dunlap, G., & Bucy, M. (1997). Parent-professional partnership in behavioral support: A qualitative analysis of one family’s experience. Journal of the Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps, 22(4), 198-207.
Hanft, B., & Striffler, N. (1995). Incorporating developmental therapy in early childhood programs: Challenges and promising practices. Young Children, 8(2), 37-47.
Hill, E., & Snook-Hill, M. (1996). Orientation and mobility. In M. C. Holbrook (Ed.), Children with visual impairments: A parent’s guide. Bethesda, MD: Woodbine House.
Maag, J., & Katsiyannis, A. (1996). Counseling as a related service for students with emotional or behavioral disorders: Issues and recommendations. Behavioral Disorders, 21(4), 293-305.
Moon, M., & Bunker, L. (1987). Recreation and motor skills programming. In M. Snell (Ed.), Systematic instruction of the moderately and severely handicapped (pp. 214-244). Columbus, OH: Charles E. Merrill.
Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education. (1995, July 12). Letter to Smith. Washington, DC: Author.
Porter, S., Haynie, M., Bierle, T., Caldwell, T., & Palfrey, J. (1997). Children and youth assisted by medical technology in educational settings: Guidelines for care. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes.
Rapport, M. (1996). Legal guidelines for the delivery of special health care services in schools. Exceptional Children, 62(6), 537-549.
RESNA Technical Assistance Project. (1992). Assistive technology and the individualized education program. Arlington, VA: RESNA Press.
Rothstein, R., & Everson, J. (1995). Assistive technology for individuals with sensory impairments. In K. Flippo, K. Inge, & J. Barcus (Eds.), Assistive technology: A resource for school, work, and community (pp. 105-129). Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes.
Schleien, S., Green, F., & Heyne, L. (1993). Integrated community recreation. In M. Snell (Ed.), Instruction of students with severe disabilities (4th ed.) (pp. 526-555). New York: Macmillan.
Smith, P. (1990). Integrating related services into programs for students with severe and multiple handicaps. Lexington, KY: Kentucky Systems Change Project, Interdisciplinary Human Development Institute.
U.S. Department of Education. (1999a, March 12). Assistance to states for the education of children with disabilities and the early intervention program for infants and toddlers with disabilities; final regulations. Federal Register, 64(48), 12406-12671.
U.S. Department of Education. (1999b). To assure a free appropriate public education: 21st annual report to Congress on the implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Washington, DC: Author.
Books and Articles
Counseling raises headaches for school districts, pair says. (1996, November 8). The Special Educator, 12(8), 3.
Deciding if a related service is medical or educational. (1996, August 30). The Special Educator, 12(3), 1, 4-5.
Giangreco, M. (1995). Related services decision-making: A foundational component of effective education for students with disabilities. Physical & Occupational Therapy in Pediatrics, 15(2), 47-67.
Harrington, J. (2000, Summer). Music therapy opens doors for special education students. Counterpoint, 1, 4.
How to address the shortage of speech and language pathologists. (1999, March 12). The Special Educator, 14(15), 1, 8-10.
If an IDEA-eligible child requests vision therapy, is it the school’s responsibility to pay for it? Q&A with Zvi Greismann. (1996, May 24). The Special Educator, 11(21), 3.
Kavale, K.A., & Forness, S.R. (1999). Efficacy of special education and related services (Monographs of the American Association on Mental Retardation, 19). Washington, DC: American Association on Mental Retardation. (Telephone: (301) 604-1340. Web: www.aamr.org)
Levy, F.J., Fried, J.P., & Leventhal, F. (Eds.). (1995). Dance and other expressive art therapies: When words are not enough. London, England: Routledge. (Available from Taylor & Francis Group. Telephone: 1-800-634-7064. Web: www.tandf.co.uk/default.html)
Malchiodi, C.A. (1998). The art therapy sourcebook. New York: McGraw-Hill. (Available from: www.amazon.com/)
National Clearinghouse for Professions in Special Education. (2001). Who educates people with disabilities? Arlington, VA: Council for Exceptional Children. (Profiles of special education and related service providers are available on NCPSE’s Web site at: www.special-ed-careers.org/career_choices/on_the_job/workforce.html)
Rees, M. (Ed.). (1998). Drawing on difference: Art therapy with people who have learning difficulties. London, England: Routledge. (See contact information above.)
Remember the human factor: A case study of related services issues. (1996, August 30). The Special Educator, 12(3), 6.
Supreme Court adopts bright-line test in medical services case. (1999, March 12). The Special Educator, 14(15), 1, 6-7.
Szabo, J.L. (2000, November/December). Maddie’s story: Inclusion through physical and occupational therapy. TEACHING Exceptional Children, 33(2), 12-18.
Tips for providing counseling. (1996, November 8). The Special Educator, 12(8), 3.
for Technology Access
Academy of Audiology
Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance
Art Therapy Association, Inc.
Dance Therapy Association
Foundation for the Blind
Music Therapy Association
Occupational Therapy Association
Physical Therapy Association
Rehabilitation Counseling Association
School Counselor Association
School Health Association
Therapeutic Recreation Association
for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired
Board for Music Therapists
Nutrition Division, Food and Nutrition Service
Arts and Disability Center
Association of School Nurses
Association for School Psychologists
Association of Social Workers
Clearinghouse for Professions in Special Education
Coalition of Arts Therapies
Consortium for Physical Education and Recreation for Individuals with
Federation of the Blind
Institute of Art and Disabilities (NIAD)
Rehabilitation Information Center (NARIC)
Resource Center for Paraprofessionals in Education and Related Services
Therapeutic Recreation Society (branch of National Recreation and
(Therapeutic Recreation) Directory
Information Center for Children & Youth with Disabilities
National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities
P.O. Box 1492
Washington, DC 20013
(202) 884-8200 (Voice/TTY)
National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities
(NICHCY) has several publications that discuss special education
services and what is involved when a child is evaluated. These publications