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Section 3

ak dept education

special ed handbook
  1. Participate with IEP Team members in writing shared educational goals rather than writing separate therapy goals.

    It is difficult to write educationally relevant related service recommendations without knowledge of the contents of a student's educational program. It is not uncommon for a related service provider to generate a set of goals that reflect outcomes valued by his/her respective area of expertise. Not only can this be confusing for families, it can lead to programs that are disjointed and fragmented with team members heading in different directions.

  2. Make team decisions about related services to be provided.

    When therapists make unilateral decisions about the related services to be provided, there is a risk of undesirable and unnecessary overlaps and gaps in services, contradictory recommendations, and conflicts among team members. Such unilateral decision making fails to address the interrelationships among the team members involved in a student's education. It does not account for the fact that many of the functions served by educational team members from various disciplines can, and do, overlap with those of other disciplines.

  3. Differentiate between learning outcomes and general supports.

    Related service providers sometimes confuse learning outcomes versus general supports; many times IEP annual goals are actually general supports rather than learning outcomes. This results in IEPs that are unnecessarily passive that do not tap the learning potential of students. "Donny will be repositioned every half hour" is an example of a support provided by a service provider; it is not an annual goal that requires Donny to learn.

  4. Understand the relationship between student needs, goals, placement, and services.

    Determination of related service needs comes after developing the student's goals and objectives and placement because these factors influence the need for related services. By determining the goals and objectives first, we know what we want the student to learn and can then consider the least restrictive placement option. The determination can then be made as to what related services are necessary to assist the student in achieving those goals in the least restrictive environment.

  5. Use an "only-as-special-as necessary" approach instead of a "more is better" approach.

    The "only as special as necessary" approach is based on the notion that rather than trying to obtain the most services possible, we should seek to determine the appropriate amount and type of services for each individual student. It also acknowledges the problems associated with providing more services than are necessary such as:

    1. decreasing time for participation in activities with non-disabled peers,
    2. causing disruption in acquiring, practicing, or generalizing other important educational skills,
    3. causing inequities in the distribution of scarce resources,
    4. overwhelming families and creating unnecessary unhealthy dependencies,
    5. unnecessarily complicating communication and coordination among team members.

  6. Make sure that the proposed related service is educationally relevant and necessary.

    To assure that the related service is educationally relevant, related service providers should be able to reference their services to the student's IEP goals and objectives. For example, making an adapted switch for use with a communication device may be referenced to the student's communication goals. To determine whether the services are necessary, consider the following question: Is there data or logic to suggest that the absence of the proposed service will interfere with the student's access to or participation in his or her educational program?

  7. Match the mode of service provision (e.g., direct vs. consultation services) to the functions served.

    Do not use formulas that offer prescribed modes of service provision and/or suggested frequencies and duration of service; there are simply too many unique variables about students, families, team members, schools, and communities for such formulas to offer appropriate individualization.

    Also, because the skills and knowledge of related service providers need to be extended to other team members, it is almost inconceivable that a student could receive appropriate related services through direct service provision only; consultation with teachers, paraprofessionals, and other service providers is necessary.

  8. Determine the least restrictive location and strategies for service provision.

    Related service providers should strive to provide services in the most natural environments and use approaches that are socially acceptable within those settings. It is important to consider the student's privacy, dignity, and the perceptions of peers when selecting both where services will be provided and what strategies will be used.

  9. Implement and evaluate related services.

    The first step in evaluating the impact of a related service is to know what components of the educational program the service was intended to support. By knowing which educational program components are being supported and which functions are being serviced, the team can ask questions such as:

    1. Has the service provided access to, or allowed for participation in the educational program?
    2. Has the service facilitated achievement of goals that would probably not occur in the absence of the service?

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