Parents in the greater Columbia area may not be aware that music therapy is a provided service for students via their local school system’s special education department.

This is wonderful news to many parents; however, adding additional services to your child’s IEP requires some footwork.

Below you will find a step-by-step process for adding music therapy to a student’s IEP:

  1. Make a formal request for a music therapy assessment through the IEP team.

Parents can make this request at the student’s annual IEP meeting or at any other time during the school year. It is important to make sure that all contact made and exchanged between the school system is in writing and kept on file.

(Note: This request cannot be denied due to funding or financial reasons nor can it be denied because the student already receives “music” in the classroom. Music therapy is completely different from music education! See our blog that clarifies the difference.)

  1. A music therapy assessment is completed by a board certified music therapist.

Once the request is approved, they will contract with a board certified music therapist of their choosing to complete the assessment for your child. Though parents have the right to an independent assessment, the school system does not have to accept its results. It is very important that you, as a parent, check The Certification Board for Music Therapists to make sure that the assessment was actually completed by a certified music therapist, as this will affect the validity of the assessment and subsequently the outcome of obtaining services.

During this assessment the following will occur:

  • The child’s IEP goals and objectives will be reviewed
  • Interviews and consultations will be held with the child’s teacher(s) and IEP team members
  • An observation of the child performing tasks that address IEP goals in non-musical settings will be completed (groups and/or individual as appropriate)
  • The assessing therapist will administer a specially designed music therapy assessment session focusing on the same targeted IEP goals
  • The IEP team will meet with the music therapist that administered the assessment and discuss a comprehensive report of the findings of the assessment. At this point the team will determine whether or not music therapy services are appropriate for the student and if this service will be added to the IEP.
  1. Follow up with the school district and remain involved in the process!

Many school systems, typically for financial reasons, will attempt to deny access to services. However, valid reasons for denial are very specific. Often times, a written notice and reminder of their duty are all that is needed to encourage a school system to comply. Sometimes it is necessary to enlist legal help and inform the school system that you will be seeking fulfillment of your rights through the courts. That being said, it is almost never necessary to actually go to court as most school systems find that the expense and bad press of litigation are not worth fighting. If you find that your school system is reluctant to grant you access to your rights, there are many organizations for parents of children with special needs who can provide you a lawyer at little to no cost.

Final Note and Helpful Handouts:

As a parent, you will always be your child’s biggest advocate. Attend your child’s IEP meetings and remain involved in this process! If you find that you are having difficulty obtaining music therapy services through your school system, please do not hesitate to contact us at Key Changes Therapy for guidance or assistance. Below are a few links to handouts that may be helpful as you pursue this process: