7 things smart parents know about autism and education

By Lisa Jo Rudy

If you’re anything like me, you spend a lot of time learning about your autistic child’s needs and rights. You’ve studied up on IEP’s, and you feel pretty sure you’ve made the right decisions, asked the right questions, and set up the right program. Then your child goes off on the school bus, and disappears. What’s going on behind the school’s closed doors? Is your child really getting the education he needs? Here are seven things you need to know as you keep tabs on your child’s progress.

1. IEP’s Are Only as Good as the People Who Implement Them
Many articles and consultants will tell you that IEP’s are the most important tool in your parental toolbox. After all, they’re legal documents that bind the school to provide certain services and supports, and to show results. But no matter how well crafted your IEP is, it’s only as good as the teachers and administrators who implement them.

2. Kids Don’t Always Report the Whole Truth to Parents
Many children with autism really don’t communicate very much about their daily experience at school. Some will say what they’ve been asked to say “it was good,” “it was fine.” A few may exaggerate either the positives or the negatives — “Everyone is my friend,” or “Everyone hates me.” It’s unlikely that any of these statements are the complete truth, so it’s up to you to dig for the facts.

3. Your Child’s Inclusive Class May Not Be Helping Him Learn
The law says that children with special needs should be included in the “least restrictive environment” at school. And yes, it is possible for fight for your child’s inclusion in the general education classroom even if she has a range of sensory, intellectual, and behavioral challenges. Often, however, children with autism really don’t learn well in a large, cluttered space with 23 peers and an inflexible curriculum. Continue reading