5 Jul 2010
You don’t know which placement is best for your child?
Don’t worry! There is a whole system and a team responsible and devoted to find the best placement for your child.
By placement I mean the program and the class that best fits your child’s needs.
Know Your Rights
In case you do not know about your rights, here are the legal rights of children with special needs according to the National Research Council’s Educating Children with Autism. These rights apply to the U.S.A. I am not really aware of the rights in other countries. Please, read attentively.
1- Zero Reject
All children with disabilities must be provided a free and appropriate public education (FAPE). Local schools are required by law to provide needed services. For children with autism, this means that no child , regardless of the severity of symptoms or expression of difficult behaviors, can be denied educational services.
2- Nondiscriminatory Evaluation
Each student must receive a full individdual examination, with tests appropriate to the child’s cultural background and native language, before being placed in a special education program. For children with autism, this means an evaluation that is performed by personnel with experience using and interpreting assessments for children with autism.
3-Individualized Education Program (IEP)
An Individualized Education Program (IEP) is required to be developed by a team of qualified professionals for each child with a disability who is receiving special education. The law specifies that the team must include at least one general education teacher, a special education teacher, a school district representative qualified to provide or supervise specially designed instruction, an individual who can interpret the instructional implications of the evaluation results, the child’s parents, the student (if appropriate), and other individuals who have special expertise.
4-Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)
Children with special needs should be educated as much as possible in a general education classroom. This is called the “least restrictive environment” (LRE). Ideally, for children with autism, this means that they should interact with children without autism within a general education classroom. This is called “mainstreaming”. If mainstreaming is not possible, these children should be educated in an alternative supervised setting or in a “reverse mainstream” situation, where children from a general education classroom join the special education setting.
5- Due Process
Due process ensures the fairness of educational decisions and the accountability of both professionals and parents in making those decisions. This means that parents of children with autism can call a hearing when they do not agree with the school’s plan for their children. They can obtain an individual evaluation from a qualified examiner outside the school system, and can take other actions to guarantee that both the family and their child have channels through which they can voice their concerns and interests.
6- Parental Participation
Parents are to be included in the development of the IEP, and they have the right to review their children’s educational records. For children with autism, this means that their parents can obtain their children’s test results and educational evaluations, and participate as an equal with educational professionals in the development of the IEP.