When speaking with the parents of a child with special needs about music therapy, we frequently hear "Wow, I wish he had this at his school!"
To which I excitedly say "You're in luck! Music therapy is considered a related service under IDEA!"
IDEA, known officially as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, was sweeping legislation that changed the way we treat individuals with disabilities in this nation. Signed into law in 1990, it really cannot be overstated just how big the effect of this legislation was. It radically changed the world of special education.
It set up the Individualized Education Plan, or IEP, a central part of education for children with learning differences, as well as the "related services." But what exactly does that mean? A related service is a service that falls into certain categories and guidelines, that when deemed necessary for a child's education, must be put into the IEP, with costs covered by the school. So the fact that music therapy qualifies as a related service is a big deal.
But the key component of all of this, and what all too often is used as a barrier to services, is the "deemed necessary" part. It's all too easy for the IEP team to tell a parent that a service isn't really needed, and it's up to the parent to fight for all the services they believe their child needs. When you consider music therapy in this equation, it becomes even more difficult, as many educators and administrators have NO IDEA what music therapy is. It's alright, we're working to change that.
So how do you go about getting music therapy added to an IEP? Natalie Mullis, owner of Key Changes Music Therapy Services in Columbia, South Carolina, is writing an EXCELLENT series on her blog right now, breaking down the steps of getting music therapy on your child's IEP. Natalie is a fantastic music therapist, and has done a great job of breaking this down. Head over to her blog, read through it, and leave her some comments!
It just so happens that our own Laurie Peebles, who also hails from the Palmetto State, is over in South Carolina (or, Sakerlina, as I am fond of saying to her) right now, advocating for a music therapy licensure bill similar to what Georgia passed last year at her state capital! So please, send both her and the wonderful Natalie Mullis good vibes! Their work will make getting music therapy services on an IEP even easier, along with a whole host of other benefits.
Interested in music therapy services for your school, or getting a music therapy added to your child's IEP? We would love to help! Click the purple button below to get started, no obligation, just a free chat!
Image credit: Nioxxe (http://farm5.staticflickr.com/4028/4691213785_7c3132ea6c.jpg)