As a special education advocate in Connecticut, I can’t tell you how many times I have sat in IEP Team Meetings and heard this from the school district: “just because your doctor says he has autism doesn’t mean he needs special education,” “and besides, he’s getting great grades in all of his academics.”
To which I say: “yes, we know that. However, can we look beyond his grades and talk about the fact that he has no friends, sits in the lunch room alone, can’t organize his homework, and is being harassed by other kids daily?”
This is what typically occurs when my client has “high functioning” autism. By the way, you need to know that I can not stand the term “high functioning;” I prefer to say “less affected” by autism. Unfortunately, that phrase hasn’t caught on yet, so I’ll say “high functioning,” so you know what I mean.
This is where I turn to the Team and say, and here’s what I want you to remember: “Education is not just about academics!”
Here is a great article from my friend and colleague Jennifer Laviano, a special education attorney practicing here in Connecticut.
So just remember, when you have your son or daughter evaluated to determine whether they have an autism spectrum disorder, make sure he or she is evaluated in all domains, not just academics. And, don’t forget to keep the “I” (individualized) in IEP!!!!