Arc Guide to Related Services in Special Education

An Individualized Education Program (IEP) is a written plan. It provides documentation for students with disabilities receiving special education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA). The IEP includes special education, related services, supplementary aids and services necessary for the student to meet goals and objectives. This guide will provide information on related services.

Related services focus on assisting a student with a disability to benefit from special education. Related services focus on assisting the student to:

  • Be involved in and make progress in the general curriculum (learning what students without disabilities are learning)
  • Participate in extracurricular activities (often held before or after the typical school day) and other nonacademic activities.

Related services providers are not required members of the student’s IEP team. They may not be invited to IEP meetings. A parent could ask the school case manager that the related service provider(s) attend the meeting.

If the related services provider is also the student’s special education teacher, then the related services provider may be required.

All students receiving special education will receive specialized instruction. Not all students who receive specialized instruction need related services.

Related services often provide additional help and support. The need for related services is decided by the IEP team in the IEP process including the special education evaluation and creation of the IEP.

Some types of related services are:

  • Audiology – Assistance related to hearing loss, need for sound amplification
  • Counseling services – Services by social worker, psychologist, guidance counselor, etc.
  • Early identification and assessment of disabilities in children – Identifying if a child has a disability as soon as possible
  • Interpreting service – For communicating with student who is Deaf or Deaf-blind
  • Medical services – Provided by a licensed doctor, assistance in determining if the student’s medical disability means the student needs special education, diagnosis and evaluation
  • Occupational therapy – Services provided by a qualified occupational therapist; focus on working with a student who has difficulty doing something due to physical, developmental, social or emotional issues. Some examples include taking care of one’s body, moving safely around school, using one’s sense and muscles, fine motor (writing, cutting), gross motor (walking, gym skills)
  • Orientation and mobility services – Services to a student who are blind or visually impaired, assist the student to move around in the school setting
  • Parent counseling and training – Assisting the parents of the student to understand their child’s disability and special needs, assists parents in the IEP process
  • Physical therapy – Services provided by a licensed physical therapist; some examples include assistance with posture, muscle strength, mobility (getting around in the school setting)
  • Psychological services – Giving tests (assessments and evaluations) related to learning and behaviors, explaining assessment results, consulting with special education staff in meeting the needs of the student, assisting with creating positive behavior plans for a student
  • Recreation – Related to leisure and play; may include assessing interests; improving ability with balance, coordination, strength, eye/hand coordination, team building, etc.
  • Rehabilitation counseling – Focus on career and employment, increased independence in a work setting, integration in the work setting and community
  • School health services and school nurse services – Health services; some examples include special feeding, suctioning, administering medications, planning for the safety of the student in school, ensuring health-related care is given, etc.
  • Social work services in schools – Working with student and others on issues that affect the student in school, provide help about community services, assistance with positive behavior plans for a student
  • Speech-language pathology services – Identify children with speech and language issues, help with speech and communication issues
  • Transportation – Travel to and from school and between school buildings, travel in and around the school building

There may or may not be a goal or objective on the IEP that mentions what the related services professional will be working on with the student. There should be a goal or objective if the related service provider is teaching the student something. For example, if the speech therapist will be teaching the student to say letter sounds correctly, that would be a goal or objective on the IEP. If the student needs transportation as a related service, that would not be a goal or objective on the IEP since the student is being brought to/from school by someone and not being taught something during the drive.

Related services must be documented on the services page of the IEP. Specifically, the IEP must list:

  • The type of related service(s)
  • How often it will be provided
  • What amount of time (how many minutes per session)
  • Where the service will be provided
  • Date when it will begin and end


Arc Guide to IEP

Arc Guide to Supplementary Aids and Supports



For further information or advocacy services, contact The Arc Minnesota at 952-920-0855 or toll-free at 833.450.1494 or visit (Please note: This document is not legal advice, and should not be construed as such. Thus, no information herein should replace the sound advice of an attorney.)

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