As described in a earlier post, your child has the right to a free and appropriate education under The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and you must learn to advocate for your child. Following are some tips in regards to ensuring that your child gets the educational help he or she needs:
- Know what your child’s educational needs are.
- Learn about the educational strategies that work the best for students that resemble yours on the autism spectrum.
- Learn what you can about your local school district. School districts vary depending upon the administrators in charge and how they are funded. What do parents and professionals in your area have to say about the different districts?
- In some geographical areas there are knowledgeable educational consultants who can help. Try to find one experienced with the level of autism your child has by asking knowledgeable parents in your area if they have used one.
- Get to know the different school options in your area. What do parents and professionals have to say about the different classes and school sites?
- Learn about IDEA and “No Child Left Behind” and what the parent’s duties as well as what the school’s duties are in terms of the education of children.
- Visit different types of classrooms and different school before making a decision regarding your child’s educational program.
- Develop and maintain good relationships with school staff, educators and other professionals there to help your child, as well as in the community.
- Keep good records of any phone calls, meetings, conversations about your child.
- Keep good records of all assessments and IEP’s.
- Do not be afraid to ask questions, and do not feel intimidated by the professionals. Remember you are the expert on your child.
- Monitor your child’s progress and educational program.
- Keep focused on your goal – a free and appropriate education for your child.
Remember, an informed parent is the best advocate for your child! Read more in my book, Autism Spectrum Disorders. Tips on how to communicate and negotiate more effectively with your school will be given in the course Empowerment Strategies for the ASD Parent.