“Science of Reading” Is Important, But Can We Please Talk About Occupational Therapy’s Role in Reading Interventions?

The “science of reading” is a trending topic nationwide, as school divisions reevaluate what they thought they knew about reading and how they’ve instructed students.

However, being taught the necessary skills to read and write involves more than teaching children encoding and decoding. It involves learning how to hold a book and a pencil, tracking words on a page or screen, learning what strategies to use when fatigue or frustration overcome them, learning how to best advocate when they are struggling, identifying assistive technology to help them and teaching them how to use the assistive technology, and identifying and providing the specially-designed instruction needed to teach students this other side of reading and writing, and how to practice and perfect it.

Compensatory Education, Part II: Beware of Timelines

During what time period will compensatory education be provided? One year? Five weeks? Three months? Until all of it is provided?

When compensatory education is proposed, you might face a school district that wants to provide it within a set period of time. Consider, instead, asking that it be provided until each minute owed has been provided in full.


Compensatory Education, Part I: What is Compensatory Education?

The United States Department of Education defines compensatory services as services that “are required to remedy any educational or other deficits that result from the student with a disability not receiving the evaluations or services to which they were entitled.” This could include a school’s failure to provide appropriate and/or timely initial evaluations, re-evaluations, and/or services.

In its fact sheet, titled “Providing Students with Disabilities Free Appropriate Public Education During the COVID-19 Pandemic and Addressing the Need for Compensatory Services Under Section 504,” USDOE Office for Civil Rights ( cited 34 C.F.R. § 104.6(a) and Barnes v. Gorman, 536 U.S. 181, 189 (2002) in support of the above definition.

The Problem with Compensatory Education? Too Often, Comp Ed Steals Music, Sports, Auto Tech, and Everything that Brings Happiness

Students who have disabilities are known to struggle with depression. By removing the joy from their lives because the school is required to provide compensatory education, one harm is traded for another. The student is provided instruction he is owed, but is denied happiness he needs.

When schools fail children, they end up having to provide compensatory education in return. In theory, it sounds great. The school district will make up for its errors, the student will receive help, all will be good. . . .

However, the reality is much different.

What are Related Services?

This is important.

Pay attention, because you might live in an area that doesn’t proactively propose related services in compliance with IDEA, Section 504, and/or implementing state regulations. Too often, my experience has been that if you don’t know to ask, they won’t be proposed.

Related services are supports required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education. This could be transportation to tutoring sessions, work with a speech therapist, assistive technology training for the parent and student, training parents to use sign language, providing special training to teachers working with students, and much more.

Assistive Technology

IEP Teams Must Consider Assistive Technology Devices and Services

Pursuant to 34 C.F.R. § 300.324(a)(2)(v), IEP teams must consider assistive technology devices and services when they are developing a child’s IEP.

34 C.F.R. § 300.324(a)(2)(v) specifically states:

(a) Development of IEP—

(2) Consideration of special factors.

The IEP Team must—

(v) Consider whether the child needs assistive technology devices and services.

It’s the Law: Assistive Technology Devices and Services

Both IDEA and Section 504 guarantee a Free Appropriate Education (FAPE).

This includes assistive technology devices and services. Examples include:

* A laptop that 1) scans worksheets, which the student can then type on (because typing might be easier than writing), and 2) can be used to take pictures of the front board, notes, or any other information the child needs.

* A computer with a screen reader, to help with literacy

* Access to Learning Ally and other sources for audiobooks

* Noise-cancelling head-phones

*Voice-recognition software
If your child needs assistive technology devices or services, under both IDEA and Section 504, your child has the right to be provided them.

What is a Transition Plan

What Is A Transition Plan?

Worrying about our children is what we do as parents, but helping our kids plan, prepare, and be ready for their future is supposed to be a team effort, with parents, their kids’ schools, and other agencies working together to help students who have disabilities. That team effort should be reflected in your child’s transition plan.

Transition plans are exactly what they sound like. They help students prepare for their transition from high school to whatever comes next in their lives.