Collaborating with the School:
- The school can be your greatest ally. They are there to offer whatever educational support your child needs. Take advantage of it before your child graduates or turns 21. Try to build a good relationship with the school. Take any challenge as an opportunity to advocate for your child.
- Communicate with the school frequently. Find out the teachers’ preferred means of communication. Keep the teachers posted about changes in medicine, therapy, and behaviors at home. Offer a 3-page “portfolio” summarizing your child’s learning style, interests, sensory characteristics, dietary needs, behavioral pattern, beneficial supports, successes, etc. If you do therapy at home, share therapy curriculum, progress data, and video samples--especially if you wish to include therapy goals into the IEP. Share your vision for your child, so the teachers know how high they can raise their expectations.
- Participate in conferences prepared and actively. You are a vital member of your child’s education team. You know your child the best, and your child’s IEP cannot go into effect without your signature. Learn the rules and be your child’s greatest advocate. Depending on how well you can present your child’s needs, you may request resources such as speech and occupational therapies, 1:1 aide, facilitated social group, peer mentors, etc. When necessary, request school evaluations or get independent evaluations to prove your child’s needs. Communicate with all IEP members before an annual meeting, to facilitate consensus building.
What the law says about what your child can receive at school:
- The Special Education Rules, the State law known as “Article 7”, tells you what support, accommodation, and other services that your child can receive at school, and how you can request them. . There is a handy index at the end of document, which you can use to find information you are looking for. You can also use the handy Companion Guide to Article 7.
- Students not qualified for special education services may be covered by Section 504 (which is part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, a civil rights statute that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities). See INSource for a handy list of the services Section 504 can provide for your child. You can also read the content of this law here.
- If you want to know what the Federal laws say about special education, see the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and related laws. The law guarantees all eligible children with disabilities between the ages of 3 and 21 (or until the child graduates) the right to a free appropriate public education designed to meet their individual needs. Similar information can be found at ASA.
How to advocate for your child: You are not alone. We are fortunate to have a wealth of local resources for advocacy. You just need to tap into it.
- The most effective advocacy is through IEP meetings. For information on the nature of IEP and important strategies for successful IEP meetings, see this INSource page.
- The key to advocacy success is how well you can establish your child’s needs. To prove your child’s needs, gather all medical and therapy information. You may also request the school to conduct a certain evaluation. You can also provide independent evaluations or request a specialist to visit the school and provide recommendations. To find a specialist to conduct an independent evaluation or to visit the school, please contact IRCA. They also give information on how and where to obtain an autism diagnosis.
- For further information and support on advocacy, see the fantastic INSOURCE website as well as Indiana Protection and Advocacy Services
- If you need personal assistance and referrals:
• we have a fantastic local resource: Indiana Resource Center for Autism. The organization serves all of Indiana, but it is conveniently located in Bloomington. Marci is a researcher and best friend of families touched by ASD, always with a wealth of information to offer. Her phone number is: (812) 855-6508.
• Talk to a mentor from INSOURCE:
• to learn the experiences of other parents in Monroe County, join the listserve and/or come to the local autism support group meeting
For testing accommodations that you can request from the school (such as longer testing time, individual administration of test, use of a calculator/scribe/reader, etc.), see
- ISTEP Program Manual compiled by Indiana Department of Education. You can use the Table of Content to find the section on Accommodations Guidance, which lists all the possible accommodations you can request. (A newer version is being compiled. Please google to see if it is out.)
- Appendix C, “Accommodation Guidance,” of Section 504.