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Special Education and Related Services

Regular Education Classroom with Collaborative Support:

The student is placed in the regular education classroom, and is taught by both regular education and the special education teachers. Instruction is a collaborative effort providing increased support for the students within the mainstream.

Regular Education Classroom with Resource Room Support:

The student is in the regular education setting for the majority of the school day. Specialized instruction addressing the student’s specific needs that cannot be provided within the regular education setting is offered in the Resource Room by the special education teacher.

Speech and Language

Human communication is a dynamic, interactive process. In the course of a school day, children need to be able to comprehend, integrate, and use a number of modalities to process information and communicate effectively. They must be able to communicate in different forms for a variety of purposes, in several settings with different physical arrangements and learning materials, and with many partners who have different communication skills, styles, and backgrounds. The competent communicator adapts to all these circumstances, which are not easily controlled. Because of these complexities, adequate sampling of a child’s speech and language cannot be accomplished by a single test or single test session.

While the speech-language evaluation may focus on a particular area of communication, the SLP should be able to comment on the child’s abilities in all areas of communication — language, phonology, fluency, and voice.

School Psychology

School psychologists:

  • are uniquely positioned to prepare students to meet the demands of the world in which they live;
  • have specialized training in both psychology and education, which extends their expertise far beyond the most familiar role of conducting evaluations to determine special educational needs;
  • can support the social, emotional, and academic learning goals of all students, and provide services that impact learning at the individual, small group, classroom, building or school district level; and
  • collaborate with teachers, administrators, parents, other school specialists, and other health professionals to ensure that every child learns in a safe, healthy, and supportive environment.

Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy as an educational support service can be quite different from occupational therapy in a hospital or clinic. School-based therapists focus on assisting students to acquire the functional abilities necessary to access educational materials and adapt to their educational environment. They may help students with daily activities related to educational participation, adapt the performance context, teach alternative methods, or facilitate the use of assistive devices. Occupational therapists in schools work with other educational professionals, members of the community and families to help all students engage in their educational activities. This collaboration is also the foundation for promoting the participation of students with disabilities in the general educational environment.

The occupational therapist develops a service delivery plan in collaboration with others, based on evaluation results and expected outcomes within the student’s individualized education program (IEP). The service delivery plan becomes a tool to ensure synchronization with special education and other related services. Three primary purposes of occupational therapy intervention are:

  • remediation: establishes or restores students’ skills or performance components;
  • prevention: reduces students’ physical deterioration or emotional distress, usually through positioning, adapting tasks or modifying environments; and
  • compensation: develops task performance by teaching alternative methods, altering the task, adapting the performance context, or using assistive devices.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy as an educational support service can be quite different from physical therapy in a clinic or hospital. School-based therapists focus on removing barriers from students’ ability to learn, helping students develop skills which increase their independence in the school environment, and educating school personnel about the different considerations required for students with disabilities. Everything the therapist does with students in the school must be educationally relevant. Therapists examine and intervene to improve students’ functional abilities in school classrooms, hallways and other areas that may be part of their educational program (i.e., community facilities and vocational settings).

The therapist works with teachers to help students acquire functional abilities necessary to access educational materials and move about the school. To help students function better in classrooms, the lunchroom, or restrooms, therapists may work with them or with school personnel on adapting or modifying their equipment/materials. Other assistance includes helping students participate in activities outside of the school through mobility on field trips, sports events, on playgrounds and within the community.

Special education students face a demanding environment at school. Presentation methods for educational materials must be modified to meet the challenges of students’ disabilities, such as their ability to communicate, view and manipulate educational materials, maintain postures, and move about the school. Therapists work closely with teachers to promote the highest level of function possible for students pursuing educational goals.