Are you concerned that your young child may have autism even though you have you been told by special education personnel that he or she doesn’t? Would you like to know 3 of the lies told by many special education personnel about this disorder? Would you also like to learn advocacy strategies to overcome these lies? This article will address 3 of the most common lies told to parents about autism!Lie 1: Your child does not have autism, they are emotionally disturbed! This is the most common lie that I see as an educational advocate. Most children with autism do have emotional and behavioral difficulty, but this is caused by the disorder. To truly be emotionally disturbed, the child cannot have any other disability causing the behavioral difficulty; which of course is not true in this case.The reason that this is important is because if a child has autism, they will probably need extensive related and special education services, to benefit from their education. If the school district can convince you that your child does not have autism but is emotionally disturbed, they can try and deny all of the educational, services that your child needs.You can advocate for your child by having them tested privately, with a psychologist specifically trained in this area. Bring these results to the school district and ask that your child be found eligible for special education under the category of autism; not emotionally disturbed (if the evaluation shows that this is true).Lie 2: Your child does not have autism because they do not have the repetitive behavior that is a symptom of autism. I hear this a lot too, especially for children that have been diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) or Aspergers Syndrome. Many of these children do not have the typical features associated with this disorder. Over the years I have had many special education personnel tell me that a certain child did not have a certain disability; without testing them. The child needs to be given an autism rating scale by a qualified professional.The one that I recommend is the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS). It is easy to fill out and to come up with a score. The higher the score is the greater chance that the child has the disorder.There is also an Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) that can be given again by a qualified trained professional. Insist that your child receive an Autism Rating Scale (CARS), or the ADOS.Lie 3: Okay so your child has autism; but they are not eligible for special education services because the autism does not affect their education.The federal law governing special education is IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act). In 2004 the act was reauthorized, and the language stating that the child’s disability must negatively affect the child’s education, was taken out. It now states that for a child to be eligible for special education services, they must have a disability and have educational needs. No mention of disability negatively affecting the child’s education.You should ask the special education personnel, to please show you in Federal Law where it states that special education eligibility, depends on the child’s disability negatively affecting their education. It does not exist and they will not be able to show you. As an advocacy technique keep repeating that it is your opinion that your child has autism and has educational needs. This is all that is required for a child to be found eligible.You are the advocate for your child; stand up to special education personnel because your child is depending on you!
Do you wonder if your child’s right to privacy in their educational records, has been violated? Would you like to learn how FERPA can help your child? This article will discuss the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which applies to all educational institutions to which receives funds from the Department of Education. Also discussed are 4 benefits that your child can get from FERPA.Benefit 1: Use FERPA to review your child’s school record to see if it is accurate, and if it contains items that you have not seen. It is amazing, what you can find in your child’s school record. Also look for items that may support your case.For Example: If your child has behavior difficulties, that special education personnel want to suspend them for, look for evidence that the behavior has been happening for a while. School personnel are supposed to work to prevent the behavior, rather than continuously punishing the child for it.Ask for a copy of any item that you have not seen, or supports your case. Special education personnel may charge a reasonable copying fee, though you should ask for the school policy on parents receiving free records.Benefit 2: Use FERPA to have removed anything in your child’s school record that is inaccurate, misleading or violates your child’s right to privacy. Once again, it is amazing what you will find in your child’s school record. If something is written about your child or family that you disagree with, ask that it be taken out. If the school district refuses, they can file for a due process hearing, to prove to the hearing officer that the school’s records are accurate.Benefit 3: Use FERPA to ask for items that you may not think about, as part of your child’s school record. You have the right to review everything that has your child’s name on it; permanent record, temporary record, e mails, internal memos, testing materials and protocols, audio recordings, video recordings, etc. If your child has difficulty on the bus, ask and see if your child’s bus contains a camera. If it does, ask for copies of any day that you are concerned about.Benefit 4: If you feel that your child’s confidentiality has been breeched by special education personnel, file for a FERPA complaint. This complaint can be filed with the Family Policy Compliance Office (FPCO) at: U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Ave SW, Washington DC 20202.Your child has the right to confidentiality in their educational records. You have the right as their parent to access their school records. Good luck in your fight for an appropriate education for your child with a disability, the fight is worth it!
Are you the parent of a child with Dyslexia, learning disability, or autism that receives special education services? Are you concerned that your child is not learning? Have you considered placing your child in a private school and asking for tuition reimbursement? This article will discuss 3 needed requirements for parents to ask for reimbursement for a private special education placement.The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) allows parents to seek reimbursement for private school tuition, but only if certain requirements are followed by the parents. The section of IDEA that covers tuition reimbursement was not changed in 2004 when it was reauthorized.The requirements are:1. The school must have been found by a hearing officer or court to have denied your child a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)! If a hearing officer or court finds that your child was not denied FAPE then the school district is not responsible for reimbursing private school tuition.2. The private school must be appropriate to meet the child’s educational needs.Tuition reimbursement is not only for those children that have previously been in public school. A recent US Supreme Court ruling also allows reimbursement if a child with a disability has been in private school (but public school must deny FAPE), and if a child has been found not to have a disability and denied eligibility for special education services (which is a denial of FAPE)!3. Before a parent removes a child with a disability from a public program they are required to do the following:A. At the most recent Individual Education Plan (IEP) meeting parents must state their concerns and reasons why the proposed IEP denies their child FAPE and their intention to place the child in a private school and seek tuition reimbursement from the public school ORB. 10 business days before you take your child out of the public school program a letter needs to be written which contains the following: Specific concerns in detail about why the proposed IEP denies your child FAPE, your reasons for rejecting the proposed IEP, why your child will be harmed or damaged if put in the school districts proposed program, and a statement of your intent to enroll your child in a private program at public expense (tuition reimbursement)!If you are a parent considering this course of action I would notify the school district at an IEP meeting and write a letter; this way they cannot say that they were not notified. Hearing Officers and Courts can reduce reimbursement if these rules are not followed. Also take the time to research your states policies and procedures for tuition reimbursement and Case law on the subject! Good luck in your fight for a free appropriate public education for your child!