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Related Services

Related services are any services that are necessary to help a student benefit from her special education program. To “benefit from special education” has generally been interpreted to mean making meaningful progress toward meeting IEP goals and objectives.


The IDEA requires that the provision of services be driven by the child's needs and IEP goals. A related service may be added to the child's IEP if it is deemed necessary through assessment and the IEP process. Federal law requires that all related services be provided without any charge to the parent. 

California's Designated

Instruction and Services

In California, related services are often called "designated instruction and services" or "DIS." The list of related services available to children with IEPs in California includes the following:​

  • Orientation and mobility;

  • Audiological services;

  • Adaptive physical education

  • Instruction in the home or hospital;

  • Vision services;

  • Physical therapy;

  • Speech and language therapy;

  • Occupational therapy ;

  • Specialized driver training;

  • Counseling and guidance;

  • Psychological services;

  • Parent counseling and training;

  • Health and nursing services;

  • Social worker services;

  • Specially designed vocational education and career development;

  • Transcription services;

  • Transportation;

  • Assistive technology services;

  • Instructional aide services;

  • Travel training;

  • Behavior services;

  • Recreation services;

  • Specialized services for low-incidence disabilities;

  • Interpreting services.

When must a school district provide related services?

Under the law, a school district has to provide a student with special needs a related service only if the service is necessary for the child to benefit from educational instruction. For instance, if your child has trouble walking, running, and catching, your child may need physical therapy in order to benefit from their education. Or, if your child is nonverbal, your child may need specialized services, such as a computerized communication device and instruction in using the device in order to benefit from special education. Or, if your child cannot get to school on her own because of her physical or cognitive disability, the school district should offer your child transportation service in her IEP.

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