By Kodey Toney
I’ll See You In Part II
So historically the sequel never lives up to its predecessor. Hopefully this is more an Empire Strikes Back than a Phantom Menace. Last week I told you that I would follow up on the acronyms that are associated with autism, more specifically with education. This may be a difficult task, but let’s dig in on part two.
When we left off I had given the history of IDEA and what that means for a child with a disability. Part of what came about from this was FAPE. This one stands for Free Appropriate Public Education. This is promised to all children with disabilities residing in the US, according to the Dictionary of Developmental Disabilities Terminology (DDDT). The book goes on to state: “This means that special education and related services are provided at public expense, under public supervision and direction, and without charge; meet the standards of the state education agency and the requirements of IDEA; and take place in the least restrictive environment (LRE) needed by the child.”
So what does this all mean for your child? Well, if you remember my column a couple weeks ago about helping a child and modifying in the classroom, it’s very similar to that. Wrightslaw.com basically states that not all children learn the same way, so you must do what you can to help them learn.
This does not mean that you have to have the best education money can buy. The school has to provide your child with an education. They have to provide one that helps your child learn (appropriate). However, they don’t have to spend tons of money to get the top-of-the-line education for your child. This is not a private institution.
Wrightslaw posted in a recent newsletter: “Because public resources are not infinite, federal law does not secure the best education money can buy; it calls upon government, more modestly, to provide an appropriate education for each disabled child."
However, if your child is not making progress in the school’s programs then they are not providing FAPE. This means they need to modify the instruction for certain children with disabilities so that the child can improve scores and results. If they can’t do this they must provide a program that can.
This all has to be done in the Least Restrictive Environment. DDDT states: “LRE…allows a child to participate in general education program as much as possible and to benefit from learning with peers who are typically developing while also meeting his or her own special needs.”
So, this applies to children with autism in many ways, but the main way I can think of is that those children generally suffer from social issues. If you put them in a room with other children that suffer from social problems then you are just showing them more of the same behavior. What you need to do is put them in a room with other that can help them become more social by interacting. This pours into inclusion in the classroom.
Let me tell a crazy story that happened in my life when I was child. I’m not sure if this will help or hurt, but it makes sense to me. I had a pet duck when I was a kid and his name was Donald (original I know). Donald was the only duck we really ever had, but we had a herd of cats. So this duck basically was raised by the cats we owned. The duck would cuddle up with the cats and follow them around everywhere they went. They ate together, slept together, and basically did everything together. They became so close that the duck actually began to sound like one of the cats. When he would quack it came out as a kind of meow. I know this sounds crazy and ridiculous, but it is true. The point is that this duck, though it didn’t seem like it fit in, actually began to follow in the others’ footsteps. If it had been raised by ducks it would have probably just quacked.
This in a nutshell says that a person with special needs will get their education in a classroom with their peers, and will be provided with tools to learn better unless otherwise specified in an IEP.
Wrightslaw states: “LRE means that, to the maximum extent appropriate, school districts must educate students with disabilities in the regular classroom with appropriate aids and supports, referred to as "supplementary aids and services," along with their nondisabled peers in the school they would attend if not disabled, unless a student's individualized education program (IEP) requires some other arrangement. Some supplementary aids and services that educators have used successfully include modifications to the regular class curriculum, assistance of an itinerant teacher with special education training, special education training for the regular teacher, use of computer-assisted devices, provision of notetakers, and use of a resource room, to mention a few.”
This is just a small look into these acronyms, and there are many more out there. However, these are the most common and will get you started on your path to advocate for your child in the classroom.
As always I hope this helps.
Disclaimer: I am in no way claiming to be an expert. I’m just a father who is trying to learn as much about Autism as I can to help my child. I hope that you all can learn from me, and I from you. I ask anyone who has questions or comments about something I have written, or autism, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will try to answer questions as I have time, and if I find it interesting enough I may touch on it in my column. You can also find all columns archived at blogspot.com.