Every Child Deserves A Meaningful Education

Supplementary v. related services: What is the difference?

On Behalf of | Jan 26, 2023 | Special Education Law |

There are many types of services that a child with disabilities can obtain through special education. In a previous blog post, we discussed the basics of supplementary services.

However, it is also common for children in special education programs to receive related services. These are two critical services that can help your child in school, but what is the difference between them? It is an important distinction for parents to know.

Similar terms, different functions

Both of these services are designed to meet your child’s needs. They are critical elements of making education accessible. However, they fulfill very different roles:

  • Related services: “Related” means “connected.” So, these services are often in connection with your child’s education and development. They are more general and meant to meet your child’s overarching needs. For example, a child with physical disabilities might receive physical therapy during their school day. It might not be a part of their education, but it is “related” to their development. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) highlights a wide range of these services, including accessible transportation to and from school.
  • Supplementary services: On the other hand, the term “supplementary” means “additional” and “supporting.” These services are more technical and focused on the classroom. They include specific tools or particular modifications to support your child’s learning. For example, a child with visual impairments may receive Braille textbooks, audiobooks or screen reader technology in class.

Another key distinction to understand is where your child receives these services. Students usually receive related services outside of the classroom. Meanwhile, they will often receive supplementary aids within the classroom.

Having a child in special education requires California parents to learn a whole new set of terms and definitions. It is important to understand these terms, so you can feel confident navigating this environment and protecting your child.