There is a widespread misunderstanding in Special Education- There is no such thing as “qualifying” for related services.
Students do not need to obtain a qualifying score or meet eligibility in a specific eligibility category to receive related services. If a student has a primary disability that warrants special education services, they are eligible for related services if the team decides the service is related.
All that is needed is for the team to decide that services are educationally relevant.
Here are a few examples:
Bailey’s primary disability is Language Impairment. During a re-evaluation that included academic testing, the difference between her academic scores and her IQ was 19 points (not quite reaching the 22-point discrepancy needed to qualify for a Specific Learning Disability). The child can receive academic services from the sped team as a related service even though she did not receive a qualifying score. All that is needed is for the team to decide that the academic services are educationally relevant.
Everett receives sped services as a student with Autism. The team concludes that his poor social skills and complicated sensory-processing issues also need to be addressed, although his standardized scores during language testing were in the mid 80’s. To address these issues, the team can decide that language therapy with an emphasis on pragmatics (social skills) is relevant and related. They can also add occupational therapy services to tackle the sensory issues that are keeping Everett from getting the most from his special education services.
Students do not need to obtain a qualifying score to recieve a related service
Addy is a transfer student. At her previous school district, she met the eligibility criteria to receive services as a student with a Specific Learning Disability. When the IEP team met, they decided to accept her evaluation and serve her under the same eligibility category. During the conversation, the teacher and parents also noted that she has many fine motor tasks, including managing a pencil and using scissors. The team decided to provide Occupational Therapy as a related service for 30 minutes a week. This decision was made based on parent and teacher observation and an OT screening but no formal testing.
Related services provide the IEP team with significant flexibility in providing services to students. An understanding of how related services can be implemented can provide help faster, remove the costs associated with a standardized test, and
This information is available on the DESE website and was specifically discussed in Related Services- Myth of the Month.