Related-Services

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) defines Related Services as transportation and such developmental, corrective, and other supportive services as are required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education, and includes

  • speech-language pathology,
  • audiology services,
  • interpreting services,
  • psychological services,
  • physical and occupational therapy,
  • recreation, including therapeutic recreation,
  • early identification and assessment of disabilities in children,
  • counseling services, including rehabilitation counseling,
  • orientation and mobility services,
  • medical services for diagnostic or evaluation purposes,
  • school health services,
  • school nurse services,
  • social work services, and
  • parent counseling and training

Related services do not include services that apply to children with surgically implanted devices, including cochlear implants, or a medical device that is surgically implanted, the optimization of that device’s functioning (e.g., mapping), maintenance of that device, or the replacement of that device.

See 34 C.F.R. § 300.34.

The individualized education program (IEP) team determines if a particular related service is necessary for a child with a disability:

(i) to advance appropriately toward attaining the annual goals;

(ii) to be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum and to participate in extracurricular and other nonacademic activities; and

(iii) to be educated and participate with other children with disabilities and nondisabled children in activities

See 34 C.F.R. § 300.320(a)(4).

Special education is not a place, but an intensive intervention. Therefore, speech-language, occupational and physical therapy services, and other related services like all other special education services, should be delivered in the students’ least restrictive environment (LRE). Each student’s unique needs must be considered by the IEP team to determine the most appropriate placement for the delivery of services along a continuum of placements, to include indirect or consultative services, co-teaching with classroom teachers and other support staff, support within the general education setting, a separate therapy room or other special education setting, community-based programs, or the most restrictive settings, such as home, healthcare correctional or residential facilities.

Speech-language pathology services are provided or directed by licensed speech-language pathologists (SLPs) and address the communication needs of students identified with a disability. See State Board of Education Rule 0520-02-03-.05(2).

Speech-language services may be special education or a related service. See 34 C.F.R. § 300.39(a)(2)(i). Students eligible for special education and related services under IDEA may receive speech-language services regardless of the student’s disability category. Eligibility standards for each disability category, including Speech or Language Impaired, have been established by federal and state rules and can be found on the department’s Special Education Evaluation & Eligibility webpage.

SLPs may also provide indirect supports and learning strategies to those with unique learning needs to ensure that students have access to meaningful communication and participation in their educational environments and educators are equipped to support communication.

Speech-Language & Communication

Communication can be achieved through a variety of modes including, verbal speech, gestures or sign, written, or other symbolic language (pictures or symbols) supported through the use of augmentative and alternative communication systems or devices.

Communication is a primary and essential skill for educational and social success. Access the Communication Bill of Rights to understand why everyone has the fundamental right to a method of communication to be able to participate in meaningful interactions. The department is committed to ensuring that all students have a proficient and functional means of communication to ensure they achieve their greatest level of independence for academic, social, emotional, vocational, and post-secondary success.

Students with speech or language impairments or other disabilities impacted by communication challenges may require speech-language services to address the following areas:

  • speech sound production
  • oral language
  • language-based literacy skills
  • augmentative and alternate communication
  • comprehension
  • pragmatic language and social skills
  • critical thinking and mental flexibility
  • use of compensatory learning strategies
  • voice quality and vocal hygiene
  • speech fluency (i.e., stuttering, cluttering)

Occupational Therapy

In the school system, a child’s occupation is to be a student and perform the skills necessary to progress academically and functionally within the classroom. If a student is unable to participate in their educational environment and curriculum, a licensed occupational therapist might assist in providing intervention to address or support a student’s areas of need through occupational therapy.

Skills and functions which may impact a students’ occupation and educational access or participation and be supported with occupational therapy include:

  • motor
  • cognition
  • executive functioning
  • self- help
  • self-regulation
  • an adequate sensory system

School-based occupational therapists (OTs) work directly with students, teachers, administrators, other specialized instructional support personnel, and parents to help students develop and/or maintain the “occupational” skills necessary to participate in naturally occurring daily routines and activities in the school setting.

Physical Therapy

The practice of physical therapy means:

(1) examining, evaluating, and testing individuals with mechanical physiological and developmental impairments, functional limitations, and disability or other health and movement-related conditions in order to determine a physical therapy treatment diagnosis, prognosis, a plan of therapeutic intervention, and to assess the ongoing effect of intervention; and

(2) alleviating impairments and functional limitations by designing, implementing, and modifying therapeutic interventions that include, but are not limited to, therapeutic exercise; functional training; manual therapy; therapeutic massage; assistive and adaptive orthotic, prosthetic, protective and supportive equipment; airway clearance techniques; debridement and wound care, physical agents or modalities, dry needling, mechanical and electrotherapeutic modalities and patient related instruction; and

(3) reducing the risk of injuries, impairments, functional limitation and disability, including the promotion and maintenance of fitness, health and quality of life…”[1]

School-based physical therapists (PTs) are part of a team of related service providers who support a student’s ability to access the educational environment. As licensed specialists in movement, they assist a student’s physical safety and functional participation in a variety of settings throughout the school day. The primary role of the school PT is to help students benefit from their educational program within the educational environment.

[1] Tenn. Code Ann. § 63-13-103(17)

Communication is a primary and essential skill for educational and social success (communication bill of rights). The department is committed to ensuring that all students have a proficient and functional means of communication to ensure academic, social, vocational, and post-secondary success. Communication can be verbal speech or language supported through the use of augmentative and alternative communication systems or devices.

Disabilities in Speech and/or Language

Students with communication impairments may have significant academic and social challenges due to the multitude of possible impacts from the communication deficit. Potential issues include:

  • difficulty mastering early literacy skills,
  • not understanding classroom directions,
  • challenges engaging in meaningful classroom and peer discussions,
  • trouble answering questions,
  • disorganized stories or oral explanations,
  • frequent grammatical errors when speaking,
  • limited vocabulary, and
  • challenges with peer relationships due to inappropriate social behaviors.

Speech or language impairments are both educational disability categories in Tennessee, for which eligibility standards have been established by federal and state rules. The department’s Speech or Language Impairment Evaluation Guidance can be found on the special populations evaluation & eligibility web page.

Speech Language Pathology (SLP) Services in the School

SLP services in schools are provided to students who are eligible under IDEA through the disability identification of speech or language impaired. Additionally, SLP services may be a related service provided to students who are eligible under at least one other disability category, and the IEP team has determined that speech or language services are required for that student (34 CFR 300.34).  

Special education is not a place, but an intensive intervention. Therefore, SLP services, like all other special education services, should be delivered in the students’ least restrictive environment (LRE) to the greatest extent possible. Each student’s unique communication needs must be considered by the IEP team to determine the most appropriate placement for the delivery of services. For this reason, SLP services may be provided along a continuum, which include indirect or consultative services, support within the general education setting, pull-out to a speech therapy room or other special education setting, co-teaching with classroom teachers and other support staff, community-based teaching, or serving students in the most restrictive settings, such as a residential facility.

Activities to Encourage Speech and Language Development (ASHA)

American Occupational Therapy Association School-based OT Fact Sheet

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association EdFind (Find pre-professional programs in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology)

American Physical Therapy Association TennesseeFAQ Teleservices

Occupational and Physical Therapy Guidance

Oral Language Strategies for Early Childhood Classroom Teachers

Preschool Speech-Language: Parent & Caregiver Checklist

Phonetic Inventory by native language (UCLA Phonetics Lab data)

Physical Therapy for Educational Benefit

Speech-Language Assessments to Inform Eligibility and Present Levels

Speech-Language Pathology Services Guidelines

Teleservices Toolkit

Tennessee Association of Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists (TAASLP)

Tennessee Occupational Therapy AssociationTennessee Technology Access Program (TTAP)

The Center for Development & Learning – Relationship between oral language and reading

Treatment & Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders (TRIAD)

The Stuttering Foundation

Workload Approach: A Paradigm Shift for Positive Impact on Student Outcomes

Speech-Language Survey Caseload Summary Public Report 2022

The department submitted the Speech-Language Survey Caseload Summary Report 2022 to the House and Senate Education Committees on January 14 to comply with Public Chapter 34. The report is a summary of statewide data collected from surveyed LEA directors and speech-language pathologists across Tennessee on the staffing sufficiency of licensed speech-language pathologists in public schools and their respective workloads.