Document Type

Dissertation

Publication Date

1989

Abstract

Students with severe handicaps frequently require related services from occupational therapists, physical therapists, or communication specialists to benefit from instruction. Effective delivery of related services requires the existence of a shared framework for decision-making among educators, related service personnel, and families. This framework may be broadly characterized by: (a) the roles served by related service professionals, (b) the criteria used to make related service decisions, and (c) the authority for making decisions. Differences between team members regarding roles, criteria, and authority perspectives may pose threats to the development of a shared framework, while similarities may provide foundations upon which to advance collaborative efforts and appropriate services for students In an attempt to identify similarities and differences regarding roles, criteria, and authority variables, a questionnaire using a Likert-style scale was distributed to parents, special education teachers, occupational therapists, physical therapists, and communication specialists who serve students with severe handicaps in integrated public schools. groups were compared using one-way analysis of variance and Scheffe' post hoc comparisons. All groups agreed that (a) developing adaptations to encourage functional participation, and (b) facilitation of functional skills, were the two most important roles of related service professionals when working with students who have severe handicaps. There was disagreement between groups regarding the importance of certain decision-making criteria. Related service professionals put greater emphasis on (a) age, (b) prognosis for remediation, and (c) intelligence, than did parents or special education teachers. groups agreed that the two primary criteria for consideration were, (a) the impact of the related service on the educational program, and (b) consideration of overlap or gaps in services. Generally, professionals reported that they should retain authority over decisions related to their discipline, while parents favored consensus decision-making. Interpretations of results focus on conceptualizations for viewing roles, criteria, and authority regarding the provision of related services. Implications are offered regarding, (a) modifications in university preparation, (b) staff development, (c) administrative policies and guidelines, and (d) individual team-level strategies. Suggestions for future research are presented.