Often, children with disabilities need additional support and services to help them succeed in the classroom. Some students with disabilities only require specialized instruction by a teacher to adapt the curriculum to that child’s needs. Other times, students receive specific related services to support classroom instruction.
Types of Related Services
An Educational Audiologist focuses on the hearing, listening, and auditory processing challenges that may affect a student’s academic, communication, and/or social skills. Audiologists support students by evaluating their hearing and auditory processing ability and selecting, fitting, and maintaining appropriate amplification technology. Audiologists teach students, their parents, and school staff about the proper care and use of hearing devices. The also provide information on the educational impact of hearing loss, strategies to maximize a student’s communicative function, self-advocacy, and hearing loss prevention. Read the Audiology Guidebook.
Social workers and other mental health professionals work with children on issues they face at school, at home, in the community and elsewhere that affect their ability to participate in and benefit from their education. Delivered mostly by social workers, these services can include group or individual counseling, home visits, and social, emotional and behavioral assessments.
School social workers work with teachers to analyze student behavior and functioning over time in order to develop strategies that help maximize learning in the classroom. These social workers also connect students and families with community resources to maximize the impact of in-school behavioral support services and are part of the Crisis Response Team, which supports students and school staff when a crisis occurs. Read the Social Work Provider Guidebook[PDF].
Speech-Language Pathologists identify children with specific disorders and delays related to language communication, and provide therapy to help these students overcome the impact of these challenges on their academic success. This includes completing diagnostic assessments to determine the presence/absence of a communication disorder, and providing support in areas of articulation, language, voice and/or fluency. In addition, additional support may include the use of technology to help students become more independent, such as devices that assist non-verbal students with communication.
Speech language pathologists work closely with teachers and parents to build speech-language skills and help students apply those skills to all learning opportunities by reinforcing strategies in the classroom and at home. Read the Speech and Language Program Guidebook.
Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy
Occupational therapists and physical therapists work with the educational team to support a child’s ability to gain access to the general education curriculum, meet state standards, make adequate yearly progress, participate in postsecondary education, and become functional independent citizens upon graduation.
In school-based practice, both OTs and PTs view disability in terms of the ways in which a child is faced with activity limitations and participation restrictions instead of focusing on projected limitations of a singular diagnosis, disease, or disorder. The child’s activity limitations and participation restrictions experienced in gaining access to the educational program are assigned a high priority. Read the Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy Guidebook.
School psychologists usually support students and educators by giving psychological and developmental tests analyzing information about child behaviors and cognitive functioning and interpreting these results with school staff and parents. Through testing, school psychologists develop appropriate interventions and strategies to assist individual students in academic growth and school adjustment. In addition, they serve in a consultative role with designated personnel to offer prevention and intervention strategies related to learning and behavioral problems of students; and provide consultation on an on-going basis to teachers, parents, and school personnel to resolve student’s learning and behavioral problems.
School psychologists also help school staff and parents develop learning and behavior strategies for students engaged in the Student Support Team process. DCPS school psychologists work with parents, teachers and other IEP team members to ensure that test results and other important information is used to develop goals and appropriate services and strategies to meet each student’s needs. Read the School Psychology Program Guidebook.
For more information on special education programs and services in DCPS, please refer to the DCPS Special Education Family Guide.