Marquez was a “cutter”. In order to deal with turmoil at home and school, he sliced his arm numerous times. As a student who had qualified for special education services (he was diagnosed with auditory processing disorders and emotional disorders (ED)), he was assigned the an on-site counselor, known as a DIS counselor, for psycholgical purposes.
The counselor offered group and individual sessions in which Marquez could talk about the issues affecting his emotional well-being.
Jamie had a speech problem. He had difficulties pronouncing his “R”. As a student who qualified for special education services for Speech and Language disorders, he was assigned weekly visits to his school’s speech therapist.
Although the needs are different, Marquez and Jamie have been given the same type of services. They were outside the primary ones given to special education students and were involved in pull-out services in which particular needs were being addressed.
Its full name is Designated Instructional Services, but it is better known as DIS counseling. It is a broad slate of services and instructions offered through special education programs at local public school districts, county offices of education and several private and non-public schools.
Often referred in Individual Educational Plans (IEP) and special education laws such as Individual with Disability Education Act (IDEA) as Related Services, DIS is a critical component in serving the needs of students. Also, it is often the backbone of many special education programs at various school sites.
According the website from the advocate group, Education Center, DIS counseling will include (but not limited to) the following:
1. Speech and language development and remediation
2. Audiological services
3. Orientation and mobility instruction
4. Home or Hospital instructions
5. Adapted Physical Education (APE)
6. Physical and occupational therapy
7. Vision therapy
8. Specialized driver training program
9. Counseling and guidance (i.e. conflict resolution)
10. Social skills training
11. Organizational skill training
12. Psychological services (not associated with IEP development)
13. Parent counseling and training
14. Social worker services
15. Health and nursing services
16. Vocational education and career development
17. Recreation services
18. Specialized services for low-incidence disabilities, such as readers, transcribers, and vision and hearing services (Education Center, 2012).
Many affluent school districts and private schools will offer many of the programs listed. However, many schools will only offer speech therapy, counseling or psychological services, APE, and health and nursing services. Other services are offered through county of education (such as Los Angeles County of Education or LACOE).
Most often, students need to have an IEP or Section 504 in order to be eligible for these services. However many county and public school programs offer these services to the general population of the students in their jurisdiction.
Despite its importance to special education, it is one of the most endangered of being removed as a school service. Drastic cuts in education have either reduced the required staff needed to implement its services, or has led to the elimination of serveral services.
As of this writing, some of the programs being affected are psychological services (not pertaining to IEP development) and speech therapy (at least the county program). Some districts are considering the notion of cutting the psychological services, while others are ending costly contracts with county speech therapy programs and offering their own version.
Despites its struggle, much of DIS counseling is still in place. The services listed under DIS are too critical for school districts to cut. They offer services that go beyond instructional assistance in the classroom. It helps to treat numerous issues that may hamper a student’s academic career.