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Help! I Think My Child Needs a 1:1 Paraprofessional

We have seen a huge number of questions and comments in various Facebook groups regarding 1:1 paras/paraprofessionals. As with other posts, we want to help you understand IDEA, district responsibility, and provide guidance when engaging with the school around the possibility of a 1:1.   

IDEA: The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act says nothing about 1:1 para support specifically. Section 300.320.A.4 states the IEP must include: 

(4) A statement of the special education and related services and supplementary aids and services, based on peer-reviewed research to the extent practicable, to be provided to the child, or on behalf of the child, and a statement of the program modifications or supports for school personnel that will be provided to enable the child

(i) To advance appropriately toward attaining the annual goals;

(ii) To be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum in accordance with paragraph (a)(1) of this section, and to participate in extracurricular and other nonacademic activities; and

(iii) To be educated and participate with other children with disabilities and nondisabled children in the activities described in this section

As you can see, in IDEA, there is nothing directly related to a 1:1 paraprofessional support. Paraprofessional support generally falls under the section of the IEP under supplementary aids and services and should be documented in the service delivery section and statement. Each District/LEA (Local Educational Agency) will have its own process and procedure that is used when considering paraprofessional support as a supplementary aid or service. 

What families need to know and consider if there is a consideration of 1:1 paraprofessionals.  

  • Ask the district to see the process and procedures and any related documents they use BEFORE the meeting.   

  • Keep in mind that the decision should be based on data, not on feelings. 

  • Keep in mind that a 1:1 paraprofessional is not a guarantee based on an eligibility category.  

  • Keep in mind that a 1:1 paraprofessional is different than a 1:1 for medical reasons. Each District/LEA should also have a process and procedure for determining the need for a 1:1 medical professional.  

If it is determined that the student will have a 1:1 paraprofessional, families need to ensure:

  • Teams should consider a titration plan and what data will be collected and used annually in the decision making process.  

  • Teams define with extreme clarity the purpose of the 1:1. Not just things like “to help with social interactions,” but rather along the lines of “ to assist the student with peer interactions to ensure xxxx”  

  • Teams need to define the timeframe in which the 1:1 will be utilized.

  • Teams need to clarify if the 1:1 will be the same person every day or vary based on staffing.  

  • Teams need to clarify what the plan is if the 1:1 is absent.  

When your child is struggling, a 1:1 might feel like an easy fix. It’s important to consider the advantages and potential disadvantages associated with a 1:1. Sage EAC brings extensive experience and knowledge around how to address your child’s needs. We can challenge teams to think deeply and creatively, whether that means considering the addition of a 1:1 or developing plans to address your concerns and child’s needs. Reach out to discuss your individual situation.



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