Supplementary Aids, Related Services, and Program Modifications

A young boy and an adult play in a pile of autumn leaves.
A young boy and an adult play in a pile of autumn leaves.

In IDEA, §300.320(a)(4), it states “each child’s IEP must contain a statement of the special education supplementary aids and related services, and program modifications based on peer-reviewed research to the extent practicable are provided to the child. The purpose of these aids, services and modifications are to help the child attain the annual goals of the IEP, participate in and make progress in the general education curriculum and other nonacademic activities, and to be educated with other children with and without disabilities.”

Supplementary Aids and Services

Supplementary Aids and Services: supplementary aids and services means aids, services, and other supports that are provided in regular education classes, other education-related settings, and in extracurricular and nonacademic settings, to enable children with disabilities to be educated with nondisabled children to the maximum extent appropriate. (IDEA §300.320(a)(4) and Center for Parent Information and Resources –

    • accommodations and modifications to the curriculum
    • direct services and supports to the child, and
    • support and training for staff who work with that child.

When thinking about Active Learning related to supplementary aids and services there may be a need to alter the physical room arrangement, have one-on-one assistance, time for the staff to collaborate, slowing the pacing of instruction or scope of the content, having more breaks during an instructional activity, or training for personnel to implement appropriate instruction.

For a child with visual impairments and other significant disabilities utilizing real objects and a great deal of hands-on experiences are necessary program modifications needed to fully participate in most of the group instruction that takes place in a regular education setting. 

Most students with these severe disabilities need the support of a one-on-one aide or intervener during a lesson or activity.  This would include activities in all settings: the classroom, the playground, the gym, and the cafeteria.

These children often need a flexible schedule so they can have more or less time in an activity or perhaps have short breaks during an activity. This means that special plans and supports have to be made while they are in activities within regular classroom settings.

Active Learning can be a part of any lesson for a child included in a regular classroom setting; it just takes a lot more effort and planning. It especially requires good communication between all team members to make sure this instruction is appropriately provided for the child to be able to make progress in the general curriculum.

Note that in supplementary aids and service there is a provision to provide training for staff. This can be included in the IEP so staff can receive need training in Active Learning. There are a variety of ways this training can be provided including Active Learning Study Group webinars, participation in workshops and conferences and time to complete online self-paced courses.

Related Services

Related Services: related services help children with disabilities benefit from special education by providing extra help and support in needed areas, such as speaking or moving. Related services can include, but are not limited to, any of the following:

    • speech-language pathology and 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 and school nurse services
    • social work services in schools
    • parent counseling and training

(IDEA §300.320(a)(4) and  Center for Parent Information and Resources

A young girl work with her PT while using her gait trainer.
A young girl work with her PT while using her gait trainer.

Much like supplementary aids and services are included to help a child participate in regular education settings, related services are designed to help a child benefit from special education services. Many of these students will receive services from a physical and occupational therapist, speech therapist, adaptive physical education instructor, and/ or behavioral therapist.

In Texas (and many other states), if students are visually impaired or deafblind they have the support of a teacher of students with visual impairments and an orientation and mobility specialist. If they are deafblind they may also receive services from a teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing or a teacher of students with deafblindness and possibly an intervener.

Teams are encouraged to use both direct and consultative approaches to serving the students.  For example, the specialist might develop a learning environment and work directly with a student initially, when evaluating the student’s level of functioning with the Functional Scheme.  Later he may role-release activities to the teacher or aid or provide consultation on changes to the learning environment or activity. He may take the lead on documenting the progress of the child or set up a system for others in the class to keep up with child progress.

Sometimes these related service providers may need to combine their expert knowledge to troubleshoot problems the student seems to be having in a particular activity or with a particular IEP goal.

Related service providers must have time to plan and consult with the classroom staff and other related service providers on a consistent basis. This time can be noted under the provision of related services in the IEP. 

Program Modifications

Program Modifications: Just as supports and modifications are available as needed for students with disabilities, supports are also available for those who work with these students, to help them help the children be successful in school. Some of these supports might include:

    • attending a conference or training related to your child’s needs,
    • getting help from another staff member or administrative person,
    • having an aide in the classroom, or
    • getting special equipment or teaching materials.

(IDEA §300.320(a)(4) and Center for Parent Information and Resources – )

Active Learning considerations should be included in each of these sections of the Individualized Education Program and the IEP document that is developed for a student to insure that the approach is included in programming.

An important feature of program modifications is the training of parents and other key family members about Active Learning; this should be noted under related services.  This does not necessarily mean that school personnel has to provide the training themselves. Instead they may find resources like the Active Learning Space website, Active Learning Study Group webinars and online training modules to help. It might also include providing some of Dr. Nielsen’s books for family members to read. They may also find resources to help the family attend workshops and conferences such as blind children’s programs, civic clubs, and parent organizations.

Program modifications related to Active Learning might include such things as:

    • Support from an administrative person for regular team meetings and time or support to create new learning environments.
    • Having an aide or intervener to help with individual instruction for the student.
    • The purchase of perceptualizing aids, interesting materials for the child to explore in various environments during independent play or in a group activity, and the FIELA Curriculum or Functional Scheme.

Collage of supplementary aids