What are related services?
According to the IDEA, the federal law which specifies how states provide early intervention services and special education, “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.”
Simply put, related services can include, but are not limited to, any of the following:
• speech-language pathology and audiology services
• interpreting services
• psychological services
• physical and occupational therapies
• recreation, including therapeutic recreation
• early identification and assessment of disabilities in children
• counseling services, including rehabilitation counseling
• orientation and mobility services
• medical services for diagnostic or evaluation purposes
• school health services and school nurse services
• social work services in schools
• parent counseling and training
As you can see from the above list, there are many different kinds of services. In other posts I give you more details about some of these related services. In addition, you can view the law and view the definitions of these services on NICHCY’s website. For now, it is important for you to know that these categories exist, and that if your child qualifies, he will most likely receive these services at no cost to you (although this may vary from state to state).
How can you get one or more related service for your child?
If you think that your child could benefit from any of the above services, he must be evaluated first. (In other posts, I discussed how to have your baby and toddler or child age 3 and older evaluated for free.) Once your child has been evaluated and you have met with the evaluator or team to discuss the results, they may recommend that your child receive one or more related service. If so, the team will meet with you to create a document which will specify the services that your child will receive. In my two prior posts, I explained these documents – the IFSP (for babies and toddlers) and the IEP (for children ages 3 and older). Remember, parents are active members of the team that creates the goals for your child!
How many kinds of related services can your child receive?
There is no cookie cutter formula that dictates what services a child may receive. The law requires that the interventions be individualized based on the child’s developmental delay or qualifying disability. Also, a child can receive related services if he is on a 504 plan (discussed in an upcoming post).
Where can you go for more information?
The NICHCY website has a complete discussion of related services which will answer a great many of your questions, including how related services are funded, how to get them for your child, who delivers the services, where they are held, etc. Also, Wrightslaw, has excellent information on this topic. It is a website created by experts Pam and Pete Wright that explains all of the laws you need to know to help your child. Definitely check it out.
Have questions? Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.com.
Note: This post is part of the new weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It appears every Wednesday, and was started on January 16, 2013. Feel free to go back to look at prior posts as the series builds on itself. As always, we welcome your comments and input.