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Autism and the School System
The Individuals With Disabilities Act
The Individuals with Disabilities act was passed to make sure all children receive a free and appropriate public education that meets their needs. The act requires children with special needs to have special education service as long as they meet the requirements. Autism meets that requirement.
Free and Appropriate Education
This is an education that meets the special needs of your child. It is one that allows them to make progress learning.
Least Restrictive Learning Environment
This means that your child will be placed in an educational setting that is right for their special needs while allowing them to socialize with kids that do not have a disability. The school will do what it can to meet the needs of your Autistic child while keeping them in regular classrooms.
To figure out what special needs your child will need the school will evaluate your child. This evaluation can be requested by the school or the parent. If you think there is a problem write a letter to the school asking them to evaluate your child. They will send a paper home for you to sign that gives permission for the evaluation to take place. During the evaluation your child will be tested for learning disabilities along with any mental, or behavioral problems. After the evaluation is complete the school will have a meeting with you to discuss their findings, and what can be done to help your child.
An IEP is used when a child has a need for special education services. The group that evaluated the child will be part of the team that creates the IEP. The parents will also have a say in what is included in the IEP. An IEP will state the needs the child has to get an appropriate education. They will also list the services the child is going to receive in the IEP. The IEP can be evaluated at any time if the services are not working for the child. An example of some services that might be included in an IEP are extra time when completing class work, have tests read aloud to the child, or an aide is provided for the child. Each IEP will be different for each child. The IEP will be evaluated on a yearly basis unless the parents request it sooner. The parents have the right to be at every IEP meeting held.
You are your child's best advocate when dealing with the school system. Some schools will try to give you the run around. They will do whatever they can to keep your child from having any special services in school. You have to be the one to stand up for your child. You are their voice. If you do not feel comfortable dealing with the school alone there are lawyers and advocates that are there to help.
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