The evaluation process determining the need for special education includes identifying the related services a student will need.
The Individualized Education Program (IEP) team is charged with analyzing all data gleaned from the evaluation. Results from assessments, interviews, etc. are all taken into consideration for determining the specific details of related services.
But for parents, answering the question “How much does my child need?” is an elusive problem. In the true spirit of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004) the IEP team would have the best interest of the child and their individual needs – first.
The school’s priorities, however, are sometimes driven by other variables, such as school staffing logistics. For instance, parents may be told in an IEP meeting by a therapist, “Well, I’m in the building on x day of the week,” suggesting that the frequency of service is dictated by when the therapist was working in the school building, not how many times per week the student needs that service.
Another problem encountered by parents is the “one-size-fits-all” service, where parents are told, for example, “We start students on 80 minutes a month,” which of course, is outrageous and frankly, illegal according to IDEA 2004.
Knowing what related services a child needs requires parents to do some research. This means the proactive parent consults outside evaluators and obtains evaluation reports or some other documentation specifying, in that specialist’s (i.e., licensed) professional opinion, what services are required, based on the child’s need(s).
Without a clear plan and knowing what services to fight for, navigating the IEP meeting is an overwhelming and confusing endeavor on the part of the parent. It is imperative the parent asks the question “how much does my child need” and then do the necessary research to find an objective answer.