Requesting Recreation as a Related Service

Related services are only included in the student’s IEP or Individualized Education Plan if they are necessary to enable the student to benefit from special education. Given this, specific related services such as recreation therapy services may be advocated by parents for inclusion in the IEP. The explanation of such services must detail their uniqueness and necessity for the student’s success.


Some specific examples of what could occur if  recreation as a related service is identified in your child’s IEP  include:

  • assessing a child’s leisure interests and preferences, capacities, functions, skills, and needs;
  • providing recreation therapeutic services and activities to develop a child’s functional skills;
  • providing education in the skills, knowledge, and attitudes related to leisure involvement;
  • helping a child participate in recreation with assistance and/or adapted recreation equipment;
  • providing training to parents and educators about the role of recreation in enhancing educational outcomes;
  • identifying recreation resources and facilities in the community; and
  • providing recreation programs in schools and community agencies

The table below lists some examples of how recreation as a related service can be used to address adaptive skills or challenge area in your child’s IEP (Lawson, p. 51).

 Adaptive Skill Area Possible Challenge  Recreation-based Interventions
Communication Difficulty expressing feelings Using music or art as an avenue of expression, use cooperative games for social skills training
Home living Difficulty managing finances Reinforce money-management by budgeting for recreation.  Assist with payment and counting change whenever possible
Community use Limited knowledge/use of community resources Use community reintegration to introduce community resources.  Assist in community use with a “leisure buddy”
Health and safety Poor physical fitness Teach active recreation skills like bike riding, roller-skating, weightlifting, swimming, etc. Developing a fitness routine and encouraging follow-through
Leisure Limited leisure repertoire Assessing leisure interests and teaching a variety of age appropriate leisure skills that students can use individually and in groups
Self-care Poor hygiene or difficulty dressing Reinforcing self-care skills, such as changing or showering, before and after physical activities like swimming
Social skills Inappropriate social skills Provide structured social skills instruction and reinforce appropriate social skills during recreation activities
Self-direction Difficulty making decisions or setting goals Provide 2-3 choices of recreation activities during unstructured time and use a decision-making model to encourage decisions related to leisure.
Functional Academics Difficulty recognizing and using numbers Make a “friends” book with pictures and telephone numbers of friends.  Monitor/count the number of phone calls made in the course of a weekend.
Work Difficulty staying on task Provide recreation opportunities as reinforcement during breaks.  Recreation opportunities can also be taken away when necessary.


Lawson, Lisa Mische, and Catherine Coyle. Therapeutic Recreation in Special Education: From Legislattion to Practice. Print.


About ShaeBrie Dow

Life-long learner, mother, wife, educator. Dedicated to leaving the world a better place than I found it.
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