Understanding Your Child’s Rights in the Classroom

Individuals who have autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and similar conditions have certain educational rights and responsibilities, and it’s important for them—and their parents—to understand what those are. If you are the parent of a child with ASD, it’s time to learn what special education services are available and how to determine eligibility.  

What kind of education could my child be eligible to receive?  

By federal law, a child has the right to a free education that is suitable for his or her unique learning needs. For children who have ASD, this means that they may be eligible for special education services that make it easier for them to navigate the classroom environment and get the most out of their education. For instance, your child may be eligible for: 

  • ABA therapy 
  • Speech therapy 
  • Physical therapy 
  • Extended school year services to ensure that his or her development continues on schedule during summer and holiday breaks.  

Is my child eligible for special education services? 

If your child has ASD or a related learning or attention disorder, school officials must first determine if your child’s disability is covered. Then, they must decide if the learning impairment is severe enough to warrant special education services. Here’s what these steps entail: 

  • The educational evaluation: You, your child’s teacher, or another concerned party can request an educational evaluation from the school. With parental permission, a team of professionals—often including the school psychologist—will conduct assessments and review his or her school records.  The results of the assessment will determine whether your child has any of the 13 disabilities covered by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). 
  • Determining eligibility: If the educational evaluation reveals that your child has a qualifying disability, the school must then decide whether he or she needs special education services. If so, the next step is to create an Individualized Education Program (IEP). Be aware that the school may decide that your child’s disability doesn’t inhibit classroom learning to a significant enough extent to warrant special education. 
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