School Based Therapy

School based therapy is funded through the education system. Therefore, the goals written and worked on must be related to ensuring that your child is able to receive the same level of education as others.

This could mean working on your child’s strength so they are able to sit at a desk throughout a class, hold a pencil appropriately, play age-appropriate games during gym class, and so on.

Parents often find it hard to transition from early intervention to school based services as the frequency and duration are often less. This is a great time to explore out-patient services to address concerns that are not related to education but rather quality of life.

If your child does receive school based services, an evaluation will be performed and an IEP will be written outlining the goals and what will be done to try and achieve them.

Individualized Education Plant (IEP)

An IEP (Individualized Education Plan) must be written according to the needs of one student, and it must include the following:

  • The child’s present levels of academic and functional performance.
  • Measurable annual goals, including academic and functional goals.
    How the child’s progress toward meeting the annual goals are to be measured and reported to the parents.
  • Special education services, related services, and supplementary aids to be provided to the child.
  • Schedule of services to be provided, including when the services are to begin, the frequency, duration and location for the provision of services.
  • Program modifications or supports provided to school personnel on behalf of the child.
  • Explanation of any time the child will not participate along with nondisabled children.
  • Accommodations to be provided during state and district assessments that are necessary to the measuring child’s academic and functional performance.

Additionally, when the student is 16, a statement of post-secondary goals and a plan for providing what the student needs to make a successful transition is required. This transitional plan can be created at an earlier age if desired.

IEPs also include other pertinent information found necessary by the team, such as a health plan or a behavior plan for some students.

Considerations when Creating an IEP or
Section 504 Plan

Remember to consider whatever ideas would be appropriate for your child:

  • Seat the child nearest to where the teacher does most of her/his instruction.
  • To help child stay on task – seat child close to teacher’s desk.
  • Have child sit next to a peer that can help, if needed.
  • Seat child away from distractions (i.e., door, windows).
  • Allow quiet space when needed.
  • Modify assignments (give 10 spelling words instead of 20, 10 math facts instead of 20) with incentives to work their way up.
  • Give one assignment (work paper) at a time.
  • Fold assignment in half (helps child feel less overwhelmed).
  • Give concise and clear directions and make sure child understands.
  • At least once-a-week, contact with parents (phone, note, letter).
  • If child seems distracted – a walk by desk, gently touching shoulder or desk rather than saying child’s name out loud in front of whole class.
  • Never assume anything – find out facts first if a problem arises. If it involves another or other students, make sure ALL face consequences.
  • Allow use of calculator.
  • Allow use of small tape recorder (the child can go over lessons at home).
  • Allow use of computer for writing projects.
  • For children that go to resource – allow child to go to resource to have a test read to them.
    Allow short answers for child that has difficulties with the written word.
  • Allow longer time for tests (if a child has a learning disability – timed tests can make them rush. Think Quality not Quantity!).
    Remind child before they leave for the day to make sure everything is in book bag.
  • Encourage child to skip trouble spots and go to next question. Many children get stuck and when time is up they’ll rush to answer the questions.
  • Mark right answers instead of wrong answers.
  • Give child choices and involve child in self-improvement.
  • Textbooks at home so child can review lessons.
  • Books on tape.

As a Parent

As a parent, you are the most powerful advocate for your child. No one should develop your child’s IEP without you. As you go through this process, keep in mind that you have the final say in the plan that’s created for your child. Sometimes a number of meetings will need to take place in order to determine what’s best for your child. Do not feel pressured to make all the decisions at one meeting.

Some parents find it’s helpful to bring a tape recorder to an IEP meeting. Tell the school that you are going to bring one. If they say you can’t, ask them to provide you with documentation that prohibits tape recorders. Tell them you will make copies for them. The reason for a tape recorder is to allow you to go over meeting at a later time. These meetings can be stressful. A few other tips include:

  • A few days before a meeting, make a list of everything you want to discuss and make copies for everyone. If you can’t get to everything on your list, request a second meeting to do so.
  • Bring an advocate that knows the ins and outs of Special Education if possible.
  • The night before a meeting, put everything you want to bring in a folder.
  • If you do not understand something that is being said, always ask it to be explained to you. Don’t leave the meeting confused.
    You can request that specific people be at this meeting and if they have confirmed and dropped out at the last minute, ask to reschedule meeting.
  • Go to meeting prepared and with a positive attitude. Show them that you are more than willing to work with them and that you want them to work with you. After all, it’s about your child – who is the important person regarding all of this!
  • Make a list of what works for your child. Have it added to the IEP or Section 504 Plan. Do not sign until it’s added.
  • If you feel the plan isn’t being met, remind the teachers to read the plan. You can also make a copy of what is in the plan and put it in your child’s binder. Let the teachers know it will be there for their review.
  • Keep in touch with teachers. Call them, write notes or letters. If you are concerned about anything, request a meeting.

Early Intervention Support in Your State

Visit our Resources section for links to Early Intervention resources in each state.


Brown, W., Thurman, S.K., & Pearl, L.F. (1993). Family centered early intervention with infants and toddlers: innovative cross-disciplinary approaches. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.

Division for Early Childhood. (1993). DEC recommended practices: Indicators of quality in programs for infants and young children with special needs and their families. Reston, VA: The Council for Exceptional Children.

Lerner, J.W., Lowenthal, B., and Egar, R. (1998). Preschool children with special needs. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Zhang, C. & Bennett, T. (2000). The IFSP/IEP process: Do recommended practices address culturally and linguistically diverse families? (CLAS Technical Report #10). Champaign, IL: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Early Childhood Research Institute on Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services.

This information has been reprinted from the ERIC Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted Education

The Council for Exceptional Children
1110 N. Glebe Rd.
Arlington, VA 22201-5704
Toll Free 1-800-328-0272