Related services are services that your child may receive that meet their non-academic needs. These include occupational therapy, speech, physical therapy, audiology, counseling, and many more. Here are some descriptions of a few of the related services that your child may receive. Note that these can be provided as direct services (given directly to your child) or indirect (through consult with the family and teacher on ways to help).
Speech-Language Pathology: The provider may be referred to as an “SLP” (speech language pathologist) and sometimes it is casually referred to as “speech”. This may be a bit of a misnomer if your child is non-verbal, and may be confusing. However, “speech” is used for any child who has articulation or communication difficulties. This can be difficulty in both understanding and in speaking or either/or. Project Enlightenment can provide early intervention for children needing speech services in Wake County. An article about concerns parents may have about speech development was published in Carolina Parent here.
Occupational Therapy: Also called “OT”. This service is for individuals who need help with activities at school. These are more functional, and can be related to keeping attention to task, self-help skills, handling sensory input, feeding, handling materials or organizing their belongings or school work. These practitioners often have practical ways to help your child manage the classroom environment, routines and activities.
Physical Therapy: Also called “PT”. This services if for individuals who need help with mobility and movement. People often get confused between OT and PT, but PT is specific to motor needs, posture or movement. These practitioners help with navigating the school environment (including classrooms, hallways and even the playground), getting around the school during transition times, carrying materials, etc.
Psychological Services/Counseling: Students who have academic, emotional or behavioral needs related to their disability can be eligible for Psychological Services. If your child needs a positive behavioral plan these practitioners will help with collecting data and determining best ways to help your child. If your child is having behaviors that are causing him or her difficulty in a classroom environment, the psychologist or counselor can also help.
Audiology: Also called EdAud. Children who have hearing difficulties may qualify for an educational audiologist. They help make accommodations to be sure that your child’s hearing needs are met by checking hearing aids, helping the teacher assure appropriate classroom acoustics where possible, and providing ways to implement accommodations in the classroom (closed captioning, etc). Note that this is not the same as a teacher for the Deaf! To learn more about audiology and who qualifies, a website called Wright’s Law page explains more here.
Interpretation Services: Interpretation services for children who are Deaf, hard of hearing, have difficulty hearing or are Deaf-blind ensure that children have access to the ability to understand what is going on around them. Whereas an EdAud helps with implementing changes to the classroom or with devices, an interpreter specifically helps interpret so your child can understand what is going on in the classroom.
School Nurse: Medically fragile or needy children can have access to a school nurse. The services provided must be related to educational needs and making sure that a child’s right to a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) are met.
Social Work: Social workers look at the whole environment around the student (classroom, home life, disability) and help the student with the areas in which these work together. This has a wide array of definitions and can look like writing up the child’s personal history, providing counseling/support to the student and family, assuring access to transportation to school and many others.
Orientation and Mobility Services: These are specific for visually impaired or blind students. These services allow students to receive help orienting themselves to the school environment and provide training in ways to navigate the classroom. This can include help using a cane, a seeing eye dog, and help understanding light/sound and how it impacts the environment for low-vision individuals.
Rehabilitation Counseling: This allows students with disabilities who are looking for jobs, or who may be looking for jobs in the future, to access services that will allow them to obtain employment. Vocational rehabilitation is another term often used for this (shortened to “Voc Rehab” or simply to “VR”). You can find out more information about the North Carolina Voc Rehab program for after your child ages out of school here.
Recreation: These providers look at what recreational activities a person might wish to engage in. Then they look at how a person’s disability negatively impacts their ability to do these activities. Once the activities have been determined, recreation specialists look at ways to improve motor control, behavioral functioning and cognitive functioning in ways to allow a student better access to recreation.
Transportation: Certain students receive transportation as a related service. If the school provides transportation to and from school, the school will need to assure that the student can access transportation. This may look like separate busing or ensuring that the student can be accommodated on the bus with his or her non-disabled peers. Transportation can also include movement around the school or to and from buildings within the school. Most students with disabilities will be able to access the bus with their non-disabled peers.