Autism: The Right to an Education!

I have a long list of things parents have asked me to write about and one of the big things is simply access to educational entitlements. Really! It’s not like we do not know what children on the autism spectrum need. It’s not like parents don't have enough to deal with without having to fight for their children’s right to an education. But they do and they do....

I am not a lawyer or a medical doctor, I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, so nothing I say or do on this blog should be taken as a replacement for individualized legal or medical advice. Nor should anything said, done, recommended or implied replace individualized therapy...

BUT...

Let's talk a bit about educational entitlements for children 3-21 years old. An entitlement is a right to benefits specified especially by law or contract. 

What???? My 3 year old child has a right to an education????

YES!!!!!  You've got rights! Well your child does. And they are powerful rights! If you know them, you will get the services your child needs. The Feds lay down your child's rights in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) http://idea.ed.gov/ and these rights are overseen by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/osers/osep/index.html. The two federal heavy hitters in IDEA are the right to a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) and the right to a FAPE in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). The Feds say that it is the law of the land that all children with autism must be given an education that is free and meets their individual needs so that they can access their school curriculum and this education has to be provided in the school and classroom that they would be in were they not to have a diagnosis of autism.

What????

Okay, here's the scoop. Federal law says the public schools, starting at age 3, have to teach children with autism in a way that the children can learn and it has to be free! The Feds go on to say that as much as possible children with autism have the right to be in their neighborhood school in a class of their peers and have the right to all the supports they need to do so successfully. Failure to do so is not an option!

So, it is critical that once your child has medical diagnoses of autism by a qualified team or individual you let your school administration know you want a meeting to develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for your child’s Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) as defined in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) or your going to call the federal Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP)!

For more information on autism go to http://www.brightfuturesaei.com/, drop me a note or call to schedule a free consultation.

Here's to Bright Futures for all children!

Zoe

#Autism #BrightFutures #ABA #Advocacy #IDEA #OSEP #FAPE #LRE #education