What Are Some Examples of Related Services and Who Provides Them?
Audiology Services are generally provided by audiologists who screen, assess, and identify children with hearing loss. Additionally, they:
- determine the range, nature, and degree of the hearing loss;
- make referrals for medical or other professional attention for the habilitation of hearing;
- provide language habilitation, auditory training, speech reading (lip reading), speech conservation, and other programs;
- determine the child's need for group or individual amplification, select and fit an appropriate hearing aid, and evaluate the effectiveness of amplification.
When occupational therapy is provided as a related service, it is meant to enhance a student's ability to function in an educational program. By focusing upon the skills of daily living, occupational therapists can often help individual students to function in the least restrictive environment. Generally, occupational therapists:
- provide treatment to strengthen and develop fine motor functions;
- focus on treatment of the small muscles, primarily those of the face, upper trunk, arms, and hands; and
- improve the student's ability to perform tasks necessary for independent functioning, such as chewing, swallowing, placement of the tongue and mouth for speech formation, eye-hand coordination, and manual dexterity.
- provide treatment to increase muscle strength, mobility, and endurance;
- focus on gross motor skills that rely on the large muscles of the body involved in physical movement and range of motion;
- help to improve the student's posture, gait, and body awareness; and
- monitor the function, fit, and proper use of mobility aids and devices.
In relation to special education, physical therapists are primarily concerned with developing and enhancing the physical potential of students with disabilities, so that they can achieve maximum independence and function in all their educational activities.
Psychological Services are also delivered as a related service when necessary to help students with disabilities benefit from their education. Some of their primary duties are to:
- administer and interpret psychological and educational tests and other assessment procedures to determine if, indeed, the student has a disability;
- obtain, integrate, and interpret information about a student's behavior and conditions for learning. Sources of information may include observations of the student and interviews with teachers, parents, and the student;
- consult with school staff and assist in planning an educational program to meet a student's special needs, as indicated by psychological tests, interviews, and evaluations of behavior; and
- plan and manage programs to provide psychological services, including counseling for students and parents.
Medical Services are considered a related service only under specific conditions. By definition, medical services:
- are provided by a licensed physician to diagnose a child's disability, determine the need for special education, and determine the type and extent of related services that may be needed; and
- are permitted for diagnostic reasons, but do not include direct, on-going medical treatment by a physician.
School Health Services are necessary, because many children and youth with disabilities would be unable to attend a day of school without supportive health care. Health services are typically provided by a qualified school nurse or a specifically trained non medical person who is supervised by a qualified nurse. Some of the health services that school nurses or other qualified personnel provide to students with disabilities include:
- special feedings
- clean intermittent catheterization
- administering medications
- planning for the safety of a student in school, and
- ensuring that care is given in the classroom to prevent injury (e.g., changing a student's position frequently to prevent pressure sores).
Transportation Services are provided to those students who need special assistance because of their disability or the location of the school relative to their home. Not all students with disabilities are eligible to receive specialized transportation services. Many are able to use the same transportation that students without disabilities use to get to school. However, for those who need special assistance, the school district must:
- provide travel to and from school and between schools;
- provide travel in and around school buildings; and
- provide specialized equipment (such as special or adapted buses, lifts, and ramps), if required to provide special transportation for a child with disabilities.
Counseling Services are typically provided by school counselors who work with students to develop their career awareness, to improve their understanding of self, and to improve their behavioral adjustment and control skills. Additionally, school counselors may:
- identify and refer students who may be eligible for special education;
- secure parental permission for referrals;
- provide advice concerning a student's level of functioning, affective needs, and appropriateness of the IEP;
- provide student guidance and counseling in keeping with the IEP; and
- provide supportive counseling for parents.
Speech-Language Therapy is a service provided by speech-language pathologists to address the needs of children and youth with communication disabilities, such as dysfluency and impairments in articulation, language, or voice. Typically, speech-language pathologists may:
- screen and evaluate students for disorders of fluency, language, articulation, voice, oral-pharyngeal dysfunction, and cognitive/ communication disorders;
- provide speech and language services to address all types of communication disorders, including augmentative and alternative communication systems; and
- refer the student for medical or other professional attention necessary.
It should be noted that effective oral communication is regarded as a component of educational performance.
Social Work Services are provided in order to address the whole welfare of the student with a disability - his or her life at home, in school, and in the community. 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 may become necessary in order to help the student maximize benefit from the educational program. Their duties within schools typically include:
- preparing a social or developmental history of a student with a disability;
- providing group or individual counseling to the student and family;
- working with the problems in a student's living situation (home, school, and community) that are affecting the student's adjustment in school; and
- mobilizing school and community resources to enable the student to benefit from his or her educational program.
Parent Counseling and Training is an important related service, because it addresses the needs of the parents and the vital role they play in the lives of their children. The parents of a child or youth with a disability may have great need for counseling and training in order to understand their child's disability and how it may affect development. When necessary to help the child or youth with a disability benefit from the educational program, school counselors can:
- assist parents in understanding the special needs of their child;
- provide parents with information about child development; and
- provide parents with referrals to parent support groups, financial assistance resources, and professionals outside the school system.
Recreation Therapy is included as a related service, because all children, with or without disabilities, need to learn how to use their leisure and recreation time constructively. For those students with disabilities who are judged to require recreation therapy in order to benefit from special education, the therapy can serve to improve socialization skills, as well as eye-hand coordination and physical, cognitive, or language development. To this end, recreation therapists:
- assess the student's leisure capacities and functions;
- provide therapy to remediate functional difficulties that limit involvement in leisure activities;
- provide leisure education for learning the skills, knowledge, and attitudes related to leisure involvement; and
- help the student to participate in recreation, based on the student's need for assistance and/or adapted recreation equipment.
Artistic/Cultural Therapies are specifically mentioned in federal regulations as other "supportive services" and include "artistic and cultural programs, and art, music, and dance therapy, if they are required to assist a handicapped child to benefit from special education".
Dance therapy, for example, can develop and promote "good posture, discipline, concentration, coordination, agility, speed, balance, strength, and endurance". Art therapy provides individuals with disabilities with a means of self-expression and opportunities to expand personal creativity and control. Music therapy is used to foster similar personal growth. Its therapeutic aims are the restoration, maintenance, and improvement of mental and physical health. This type of therapy can affect changes in behavior, social skills, perception, self-esteem, and physical mobility and skills.
- Artistic and cultural therapies are designed by art therapists, dance therapists, and music therapists to address the individual needs of students with disabilities. These professionals:
- assess the functioning of individual students;
- design programs appropriate to the needs and abilities of students;
- provide services in which movement or an art form is used in a therapeutic process to further the child's emotional, physical, and/or cognitive development or integration; and
- often act as resource persons for classroom teachers.