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!!!!

3 Responses to Must A Child With “High Functioning” Autism Have an IEP?

  1. Andrea

    I don’t see the article. I would be very interested in reading it.

  2. Rod

    I am an Adult with Aspergers syndrome and turn 50 this year.
    I ran a trust in New Zealand for 14 years supporting children with Aspergers in education.
    For ten of these years I worked on area health and education teams assigned to work with the children themselves in a classroom setting. Over this period I have turned a majority of children around in successful
    achievers. This comment will attract the most strongest of critics especially Parents and many Professionals
    who miss one important piece of information. The comment is : most are not that differcult to turn around. In fact the the quickest time it took me to achieve this in one Aspergers child was two minutes.
    The missing piece of information that the critics don’t have when they make their attack is how and why in relation to how I achieved this. This is because people want results but the how or why no one wants to know.
    I agree with the writer above that not all ASD children need special education. In fact the majority don’t.
    However they do need some tweaking and for this to happen it is often opposed despite it doesn’t require money, extra resources or teacher time. I’m not giving just an opinion , I have actually achieved it.
    I have worked now with hundreds of ASD children and teenagers but from total frustration of trying to convince the adults to listen in relation to some very important facts have washed my hands of it now and I’m now doing a less stressful job cleaning toilets.

  3. kathy

    I need help with a student I have that is brilliant, but has the maturity of a primary student.(Twice exceptional learner). I need help with writing some sort of documentation with all of the right buzz words to get him an aide/papra-pro in the regular ed classroom. He has been removed from the more challenging classes due to his behavior. I feel that this is a big injustice. He has no support in the classroom and so his blurting out and childish behaviors is costing him friends in the classroom. Then it get dragged onto the playground where he is taunted by his previous actions in class. He does got for counseling 30 min a week to talk about what he should have done or how to make the right choices. He also goes to the resources room 2 times a week to help with organization. none of these interventions are helping. He also has a therapist that comes once a week to see if he needs a movement break, but he will tell her no, so she leaves. I do not send him out of the room as I have seen that done in the past. I feel that this is not the way to teach him how ot behave in class. I would be sending him out of the room at least 10 times a day. And I refuse to send him down to the office. He can’t help it. His “autismness” and ADHD is what causes these behaviors and he has not been taught how to control these in a classroom setting.He needs another adult in the room to help him self monitor at the times he behaviors are inappropriate. Right now it has been just me, which I don’t mind, except that is not helping him, but reinforcing the behavior. When I continue to ignore or try nonverbal cues, he does not get it and continues to talk louder or do whatever is needed to get my attention and verbal responses. The rest of the class sees this and causes them to be upset at him. Anytime I have another adult in the room and he sees that person, he is the model student. however, once that person leaves the room, he is right back at blurting out or making inappropriate comments. He gets out of his seat constantly, which I allow as long as he is not interrupting other students that are working. He will be moving to a middle school next year and I am deeply concerned for him. He will no longer have any protection that is offered at the elementary level. I feel that he needs another adult in his classroom to help him learn the classroom societal expectations and behaviors that he has still not learned. He has learned to be quiet when there is another adult in the room but not when it is just the teacher up front. The last adult in my room was my principal doing her annual observation of my teaching. This boy was behaving as he usually does, but once he became aware of her in the room he completely changed. She saw this and asked the he be observed by the counselor. She went into his reading class and observed him in a small group setting. He did very well, but spoke of events that were inaccurate from the book. The counselor only saw a boy participating in a small group setting, where it all seemed great. No one corrected his statements because they knew that he would say that he was right and they were not, where the other students would just roll their eyes and move on. He would not notice their non-verbal signs and think everything was fine. When the teacher questioned him on his inaccurate statements he would say that he was right. The teacher then asked if he could show her to help her remember that. Eventually he would find the part that stated something different and he would just gloss over it and say he made a mistake.
    So I have an IEP meeting in less than a month about this boy. I would like to get some sort of documentation with the correct working to his varied doctors so that they can also suggest the need of another adult in the classroom to help him when needed. There are co-op classes at the junior high, where the content is the same as the regular ed class, but has a parapro. These classes have any and all students with IEP and 504′s. The boy I need help with needs to be in the challenge and preAP classes to stimulate his learning.
    Needless to say, there are many, many other challenges I have with this boy, but I feel that this is the one behavior that is causing a lot of other problems. I am hoping that in time, with extra support, he will find more success with his peers.
    Is there anyone out there that can help me?

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