"What is the difference between inclusion versus pull out therapy services?"
This question is a popular one among both parents and teachers. When a child's IEP (individualized education plan) is written, the amount of services along with where the services will take place is decided at the meeting. This IEP is a legal document and must be followed as written. This is not to say that it cannot be changed, but by law, the teachers and therapists need to follow the IEP the way it is written. With that being said, it is important for both staff members and parents to understand the difference between inclusion and pull out services.
Simply put, inclusion services are given inside the general education setting and pull out services are when the child is, well, "pulled out" of the classroom. The child receives special education inclusion services (speech, occupational therapy, physical therapy, etc.) when the service provider comes into the classroom to work with your child. Teachers: take advantage of the service provider being in your room. He/she is there to help you! Above is a picture of me working with one of my PreK inclusion groups. I ran a group lesson with the entire PreK class. Someone from the outside would have no idea which students were on my caseload by simply watching my lesson. This is often something very important to parents that do not want their child to be "labeled" or appear any different than any other child in his/her class.
Pull out services usually take place in the therapy room (or closet/ designated therapy space!) When the child is "pulled out" they are not with their classmates. The IEP most likely will not say "pull out services" but rather "ESE Setting" will be noted on the IEP. Don't be alarmed by seeing ESE setting. This does not mean that your child will be moved into a special education classroom. This means that he or she will receive services outside of their classroom and away from their typical peers. The IEP team decides which type of therapy will be the most beneficial for the child. I have found that both inclusion and pull out services can be incredibly beneficial but the decision needs to be based on the child's individual needs. For example, for most students working on articulation goals, pull out services are usually best. It is often difficult to work on a student's articulation of words/sounds in front of their classmates. However, if a child has been in speech for a while and is working on carrying over their good speech into the classroom, it may be more appropriate to have speech as inclusion services.
There is a variety of service options because no child is the same. The best thing that you can do as a parent and/or teacher, is be as knowledgable about these things as possible. As a parent, you know your child better than we ever will. Knowledge will allow you to be the best advocate for your child.