Printer Friendly

These are not your same old related services: need-to-know changes in IDEA. (School Days).

Parents of students with disabilities who have worked with school districts to assure that their children received an appropriate education are familiar with the term "related services." In Public Law 94-142 and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the term "special education" is almost always followed closely by "related services," and the two terms have been pillars of the federal legislation for students with disabilities for many years. The purpose of putting these two phrases together is to make sure that eligible students receive not only the special educational services they need to be successful, but that they also receive other, related services they may need to benefit from their educational program.

Related services are intended to help eligible students benefit from educational programs regardless of where programs are offered. Whether a student is in a special education classroom, a general education classroom, or learning in a community setting, the related services he needs should be there to help him benefit from the program.

The 1997 amendments to IDEA made several changes in the transition planning process. One change was to add related services as a transition activity area. Parents, even parents who have been working with the school system for many years, may not appreciate the importance of the addition of related services to the transition planning portion of their child's IEP. This article answers some of the questions that parents may have about related services as they apply specifically to transition from school to employment and community living.


Mr. and Mrs. Fox are preparing for the first. Transition IEP meeting for their daughter Janet. Over the years, they have attended many IEP meetings for Janet, but they understand that this one will be different because for the first time they are really going to focus on planning for Janet's future in a formal way. To be better prepared, they attended a workshop that addressed the recent changes in IDEA. These are some of the questions they asked the workshop speaker, Dr. Sally Carter; and her responses:

MR. FOX: What is the difference between related services and transition services?

DR. CARTER: Transition services are activities that help students make the transition from school to post-high school environments. It is a general term that refers to activities within several areas. In 1900, IDEA listed these areas as (1) instruction, (2) community experience, (3) employment and other postschool adult living skills, and, if appropriate, daily living skills and functional vocational evaluation. The 1997 amendments to IDEA added related services as a transition activity area. Related services, which have been part of the federal legislation since its beginning in the 1970s, are the services thai a student needs to benefit from special education.

MRS. FOX: What are some related services that might be appropriate for a student in transition?

DR. CARTER: Because each IEP is unique, related services may include anything that a student needs to benefit from his or her transition services. Some states have even developed their own related services' requirements and some include services beyond the ones specified in federal law. For example, assistive and adaptive devices and services, educational interpreters, and creative arts therapies (such as music, art, drama, dance, and therapies), recreation therapy, as well as nutritional services and service coordination may be included when they are needed for the individual student to benefit from special education.

One word of caution: technically, you should be able to include any related services you feel are necessary for the student to benefit from special education on the Transition IEP. School districts, however, are not required (nor can they afford) to provide any and all services that might be desired.

MR. FOX: How will the school district determine what related services our daughter needs?

DR. CARTER: Related services for transition should be determined using the same process that is used to identify other needed educational services. It involves evaluation. In this case, evaluation that focuses on transition issues. Several assessment "tools" should be used. They might include observations, interviews, anecdotal information, and other standardized and/or performance assessments.

First, the team (including you, as parents, of course) would determine what services Janet needs in order to reach her desired postschool outcomes. You will be looking at things such as independent living, community participation, employment, continuing education, adult services, etc. Then the services Janet is already getting in each of these areas would be listed. And finally, the team would identify what supports or services the student still needs in order to obtain benefit from special education transition services.

The information they get through this process will be critical in deciding on the right related services for the student. The most important thing to remember is that the evaluation should address the areas Janet needs most to benefit from special education services that prepare her for adulthood.

MRS. FOX: Once we get the related services documented on Janet's Transition IEP, who is responsible for providing them?

DR. CARTER: The school (referred to in the law as the local education agency or LEA) is responsible for making sure that all parts of a student's Transition IEP are implemented. This includes related services. As part of the transition planning process, however, other agencies may be assigned responsibility for providing or paying for certain related services. For example, Vocational Rehabilitation may fund transportation to a job site or Developmental Disabilities Office might pay for an adaptive device for postschool adult living.

MR. FOX: That brings up another question: Will we have to pay for the related services on Janet's Transition IEP?

DR. CARTER: Special education and related services on a student's Transition IEP should be provided at no cost to the parents under the principle of Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). As part of interagency collaboration within the transition planning process, an agency other than the school district may be responsible for providing or paying for certain services, but it is ultimately the school district's responsibility to ensure the services are provided as long as a student is eligible under IDEA.

MRS. FOX: What happens if a related service on a student's Transition IEP is not provided?

DR. CARTER: The answer would be the same. The failure to provide any service documented on an IEP is a serious matter. If an agency other than the LEA was responsible for providing or paying for a related service that was not provided, then the Transition IEP team must meet again and find another way to provide the service. If the LEA has failed to provide the service, then parents can go through procedural due process. It is always best to try to call the attention of the LEA to any problems in the provision of services before the completion date for that service. If this fails, parents may go to mediation or, as a last resort, file a notice of due process.

MRS. FOX: Can services for us be included in a student's Transition IEP as a related service?

DR. CARTER: Parent training is specifically listed as a related service in the amendments. The 1997 amendments to IDEA contain wording in several sections stressing the need for more parent participation and more effort on the part of school districts to provide parents with the knowledge and skills they need in order to become full partners in the education process.

MR. FOX: Where will related services be documented on the IEP?

DR. CARTER: Each district may decide where related services are documented on the Transition IEP. Traditionally, related services have been included along with other information about the student's educational program such as the amount of time in the general education setting, instructional and testing modifications, and diploma type. Some districts may prefer to include related services in the section of the IEP where the other activity areas are addressed.

MR. FOX: Janet may need some assistive technology in order to do her best in some community settings. Can it be requested as a related service?

DR. CARTER: Assistive technology may be included as a related service, or as part of a Free and Appropriate Public Education or the Least Restrictive Environment under IDEA, or under another law Section 504 (of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973).

MRS. FOX: As I understand this, related services are services Janet needs to help her benefit from special education, and they are now a required part of transition planning. The way we can have specific related services written in on Janet's Transition IEP is the same as for getting special education services. First, we find out what Janet's needs, interests and preferences are and then we and the other IEP team members determine what services are required for her to benefit from special education. Then, we make the decision about what she still needs to have a successful transition.

MR. FOX: The Transition IEP team determines what is included as a related service for transition, and if the services are not provided as the Transition IEP says they should be, then we have the right to call another meeting of the team to find another way of providing the service.

DR. CARTER: You've got it! And remember, you as parents should work with the school district to make sure that Janet gets what she needs to have the most appropriate special education and related services to succeed after school.

Important Terms

Related services

Related services are transportation and such developmental, corrective, and other supportive services (including speech-language pathology and audiology services, psychological services, physical and occupational therapy, recreation [including therapeutic recreation] social work services, counseling services [including rehabilitation counseling] orientation and mobility services, medical services, except that such medical services shall be for diagnostic and evaluation purposes only) as may be required to help a child with a disability to benefit from special education. (Sec. 1401 (22) of the 1997 Reauthorization of IDEA)

Transition services

IDEA defines transition services as a coordinated set of activities for a student designed within an outcome-oriented process, that promotes movement from school to post-school activities including postsecondary education, vocational training, integrated employment, and continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living, or community participation; and is based on the individual student's needs, taking into account the student's preferences and interests. The activity areas include instruction, community experience, related services, development of employment and other post- school adult living objectives; and if appropriate, acquisition of daily living skills and functional vocational evaluation (Section 1401 (30) of the 1997 Reauthorization of IDEA).
Examples of Related Services for Transition


AUDIOLOGY determination of hearing hearing evaluation for a
 loss; provision of job site
 habilitation activities

COUNSELING services provided by counseling in personal
 qualified social relationships at school,
 workers, psychologists, at home, and in the
 guidance counselors, community

OCCUPATIONAL improving, developing, instruction in use of
THERAPY or restoring functions adaptive equipment for
 impaired or lost through daily living, e.g.,
 disability, illness, or modified cooking utensils

ORIENTATION & services provided to training for safe
MOBILITY blind/visually impaired navigation in the
 students to enable community
 attainment of systemic

PARENT CONSELING Services that help workship on diploma
AND TRAINING parents develop options
 necessary skills needed
 to support student's IEP

PHYSICAL THERAPY training in use of large building a student's
 muscles provided by a stamina for supported
 physical therapist employment

PSYCHOLOGICAL administering and inventories for future
SERVICES interpreting developing planning
 personality assessments;
 behavioral intervention

RECREATION services related to fitness/exercise regimen
 assessment and training tailored to student's
 in leisure and needs and capabilities

REHABILITATION counseling services individual and group
COUNSELING focusing on career sessions on
 development, community self-determination
 integration, achieving

SCHOOL HEALTH services provided by catheterizing for job
SERVICES school nurse site

SOCIAL WORK providing social or eligibility determination
 developmental history; for SSI; contact with
 mobilizing school other adult agencies
 agency and community
 resources contacts

TRANSPORTATION travel to and from Transportation to
 schools community-based
 instruction sites

For More Information

The National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities (NICHCY). (1999). Transition Planning: A Team Effort. [On-line]. Availible: NOTE: NICHCY is planning to update its information paper on Related Services in the near future. The Council for Exceptional Education IDEA Partners Web site

HEATH Resource

Ohio Coalition for the Education of Children with Disabilities (OCECD). (1999, April). You and the IEP. Marion, OH. Web site: Phone: (800) 374-2806.

The Right to Technology Under the Law of Special Education: Advocacy Tips, Special Education Basics, and Assistive Technology Specifics, by Diane Smith, Michigan Protection and Advocacy Service. Available on-line at

Transition and School-Based Services: Interdisciplinary perspectives for enhancing the transition process, by Sharon deFur and James Patton. Published by Pro-Ed (1999.

Sara Pankaskie, PhD, is a professor in the special education program at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. She has been a personal and systems advocate for people with disabilities and their families for many years. She can be reached via e-mail at:

Shelly Weiss, EdS, is a Licensed Mental Health/Certified Rehabilitation Counselor in Orlando, Florida. As an individual with cerebral palsy, she has dedicated her practice to advocating for people with disabilities. She can be reached via e-mail at:
COPYRIGHT 2001 EP Global Communications, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
Author:Pankaskie, Sara; Weiss, Shelly
Publication:The Exceptional Parent
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2001
Previous Article:Educating children with chronic illness. (School Days).
Next Article:The Universal Learning Center: helping teachers and parents: find accessible electronic learning materials for students with disabilities.

Related Articles
Discipline of special-education students under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
An IDEA schools can use: lessons from special education legislation.
Students with disabilities: school counselor involvement and preparation.
The future of learning disabilities as federal laws change again.
Assisting students with learning disabilities transitioning to college: what school counselors should know.
Special ed squeeze: the feds are cutting the Medicaid funds many states rely on to provide health services for disabled students.
"Was it worth it? You bet": the impact of PL 94-142 on lives and careers.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters