The Secrets of Service Delivery Grid for Autism IEP

How do you make a somewhat technical and dry post into an exciting one? Maybe if I say that knowing as much as possible about Service Delivery grids will make a huge difference in your understanding of your child's IEP, that would be exciting?

Is it working?.. Got it.

...Let me try again. What if I said that you will never again stare hopelessly at those three nearly identical tables, shrouded in mystery, filled with the tiny impenetrable patterns of numbers and x's and wonder how to decipher even a kernel of meaning out of them? You will just come, you will look, you will conquer.

Well, I hope this was better, because this is as good as I can do. Thank goodness I am a psychologist, because as a joke writer or a comedian, I would totally bomb.

Now, to the question.

"The Service Delivery section of the IEP has three grids – Grid A, Grid B, and Grid C. Why? What's the difference?"

I am so glad you've asked. Once, when I explained this to parents during a meeting, one of them said, "Wow, I've been confused about this for years, but now that Yulika has explained it so clearly, I finally understand!" I hope I can do the same for you.

Each grid has a distinct purpose. If you understand what it is and how to use it, your child’s IEP is going to serve him/her so much better. The common thread is that once a service is listed on any of the three service delivery grids, the school is mandated to implement it the way it is written. The school becomes legally accountable for the service. If in the team meeting someone says, “Of course, we will do X,” and then it does not happen, there is no accountability and you have no leverage. So, you want to get services on the grid for accountability, and also for the IEP to reflect the full extent of the services that your child is receiving. Additionally, if the school ever wants to modify a service that is on the grid, i.e. reduce or remove it, you have “stay put” rights that will keep it there while the dispute is being resolved. You do not have “stay put” rights to services that are not documented on the Service Delivery Grid.

So, let’s start from the beginning.

The purpose of each grid is stated right on the IEP, after the name of the grid. Most people just don’t notice.

Grid A is described as Consultation (Indirect Services to School Personnel and Parents), and that’s what it's for. I call it the most underused grid in the world. Its purpose is to set aside time for your child’s team to communicate with each other, and to provide consultation and training to you as a parent. This fun littlel grid can be used in the following ways:

  • Team members can have meetings to discuss your child’s progress. This is different from EP team meetings. Meetings that take place as consultations specified on Grid A are more used to coordinate, plan, exchange ideas, and help team members have a complete picture on what is going on with a child. Usually, it is a meeting of all or some special education professionals who are on the child’s team. Those can include special education teachers, aids/paras, speech and language pathologists (SLP), occupational therapists (OTs), Board Certified Behavioral Specialists (BCBAs), physical therapists (PTs), adaptive physical education (APE) teachers, assistive technology (AT) specialists etc., who participate. All the professionals providing related services and specialized instruction to your child could be present in these meetings. Parents do not attend.

  • Specific team members can have consultation time with each other. For example, if both an SLP and an OT are working with your child on self-regulation goal, then this consultation will give them time to coordinate and check in with each other.

  • Therapists and special education teachers working with your child can use consultation time to work with general education teachers and aids/paras to communicate to them what skills your child is working on, what language is being used and what strategies are being taught. In this way, use of the same skills, use of the same language and the same strategies can be used and supported in the classroom. -- Another focus of this type of consultation can focus on accommodations. Each professional can advise general education teachers on how to deliver instruction, materials and content to your child in a way that would accommodate his or her disability. It becomes especially important in middle and high school, when there are many teachers involved with the child. I often find that a child can be struggling in specific classes not because of the difficulties with content, but because a teacher does not understand what accommodations the student requires, even if they are spelled out in the IEP. These consultations, proactively used, could come in the shape of special education teacher reviewing the next week’s content with general education teacher and making recommendations on how to modify instruction, materials and content for your child. OT could help general education teacher accommodate sensory, motor and self-regulation issues; SLP could help with accommodating language and communication issues, and so forth. You do not need to have a consultation by every single person on the team, only by those whose input makes sense.

  • Consultation time can also be used for one professional to train other professionals. -- One example of when that is needed is when child is using Augmentative and Alternative Communication system or device. There has to be a staff member, usually SLP, who takes responsibility for setting up and updating the system or device, for training everyone on the team and the parents to use it, and for continued supervision and data collection on the use of AAC system or device, so that the system/device and its use can be adjusted as needed. -- For a child who has positive behavioral supports or Behavioral Support Plan (BSP) as an accommodation, another example would be a consultation by a BCBA. BCBA needs that consultation time to collect baseline data to develop the plan, to train everyone working with the child on it, to set up data collection, to supervise its implementation, to monitor its effectiveness and update it as needed.

  • Grid A can also be used to set up home-based ABA services in the form of training provided to parents. Sometimes there can be home-based consultations on this grid by OT to help parents meet child’s sensory needs at home. These usuall