Navigating the educational system can be tricky and confusing, whether you are a student, teacher, or parent. If you are the parent of an autistic child, making sure your kids get a thorough and fair education carries even more decisions and considerations.
From rights and responsibilities to classroom accomodations, there is much to consider when your child has an autism spectrum disorder such as autism, Asperger’s syndrome, and pervasive developmental disorder. Whether you decide to enroll your child in the public education system or homeschool, you need to know your options and stay informed to be your child’s best education advocate. Here are four tips for advocating effectively for your autistic child:
- Stay up-to-date on special education law.
Because it is constantly changing, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) can be difficult to navigate. Areas of change include the qualifications of teachers, teaching methods, transitional services, evaluation methods, and aspects of a student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP). Be sure to familiarize yourself with the main statute itself: U.S. Code Title 20, Chapter 33.
States must follow IDEA regulations, and many states list law changes on their websites. The U.S. Department of Education’s website is a useful resource because you can search by state, commonwealth, or territory. Your school district can also provide the contact information for your state department of education.
- Know your child’s rights.
Federal law protects parents’ and children’s rights in public education. When you and school administration disagree on placement, programming, IEP objectives, academic goals, or other aspects of your child’s education, you have the right to ask for a conference, IEP review, mediation, due process hearing, or other federally sanctioned way to address the problem.
Rights for homeschooling parents and children differ from state to state. Familiarize yourself with homeschooling laws and special provisions in your state with the websites of the Home School Legal Defense Association and A2Z Homeschooling.
- Utilize available resources.
Whichever route you take – in-class learning or home schooling – there are governmental agencies, advocacy and support groups, nonprofit service agencies, and online resources that can help you on your path. The following resources are a good place to start:
- The Autism Society
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- The U.S. Dept. of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services
- The National Association of Elementary School Principals
- Get your community involved.
Parents of children with autism spectrum disorder can feel isolated, and yet no one should experience parenting and educating an autistic child alone. For the health of yourself and your child, include the support and involvement of family, friends, community members, and parents of other students. Seek out counseling, support groups, and respite care if you need them.
With the right information, you can identify the best educational path for your autistic child – one that provides the optimal learning experience for your child, the rest of your family, and yourself.
Eye tracking is becoming increasingly valuable as a tool for detecting autism. And it can do so more quickly than ever. Utilizing eye tracking, researchers can determine how an individual studies facial and body communication in order to interpret meaning. Through the use of eye tracking, researchers can also identify high risk factors in children as young as seven months old. Being able to detect these high risk factors earlier can support better diagnoses and treatment. Finally, researchers are able to determine how certain autistic individuals gather information compared to others. Expanding on this type of research could help create more efficient and effective treatments, as individuals who gain information similarly, may benefit from the same types of treatments.