Knowing Your Child’s Rights
The law requires every state to provide free public schooling for every child’s unique needs, including those with Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD. In 2004, IDEA or the Individuals With Disabilities Act was revised. IDEA specifies that all children with disabilities are legally entitled to early intervention or special education services, provided that they meet the state’s criteria for disability. Autism is specially mentioned as a disability covered, which means children diagnosed with conditions in the autism spectrum are eligible for IDEA benefits.
Parents are encouraged to participate actively in their child’s educational process. In this context, they are expected to know and fully understand the IDEA process.
Free And Appropriate Public Education or FAPE, is about your child’s entitlement to a tailor-fit educational program. The problem with this is that there are no set rules as to what “appropriate” is, as there is no single program that may answer all the needs of every child with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Determining which interventions are appropriate for a child’s needs will involve a lot of collaborative negotiations.
The Least Restrictive Environment or LRE is about your child’s right to go into a mainstream school, together with other normal children. It gives your child the best possible chance to interact with children his age without disabilities. It can be accomplished by putting your child in a special accommodation or providing a “shadow teacher” or assistant that has experience with children with disabilities.
Early Intervention Services is the first educational placement for young children with the disorder. It is meant to ease you and your family of the impact of having a diagnosed child. IDEA provides states with federal grants that provide these services. Children three years old and below, with developmental delay or physical and mental disabilities that can result in developmental delays, are eligible to receive Early Intervention Services at no cost.
You, your family, or your child can be the recipients of EIS. For your child, services that can be offered are ABA therapy, Occupational, Physical, Speech therapies, and psychological evaluation. For you and the rest of the family members, services include training in reinforcing newly developed skills and behavior of your child and counseling. It will help your family adapt to the shock of your child’s diagnosis.
Special Education Services
Special Education Services are provided by your local school district. So if your child is participating in Early Intervention Services from the state, you must switch to Special Education Services to continue. These two services differ in that EIS is focused on the whole family while SES focuses on giving your child an adequate quality education for his needs despite his condition.
It is highly advisable for you to know more information about what your child is entitled to, especially in terms of free interventions and education. These will be a tremendous help to you and your family in terms of supporting your child with special needs.
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