School special education legal rights for Aspergers can be confusing. A few resources can help parents develop expectations for their child's educational career.
School Special Education Legal Rights for Aspergers
Legal rights for students with Asperger's syndrome (AS) are the same as the legal rights of any student with a disability. Students with AS may not require the same guidance as students with learning problems and like all cases of autism spectrum disorders, each child requires interventions that are specific to his or her needs.
Three major resources can help parents understand their child's rights in educational settings: IDEA, the U.S. Department of Education and Wrightslaw. Students on the spectrum have a fundamental right to an education in the least restrictive setting. Mainstreaming is ideal but it may not be appropriate for every child.
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a law that ensures that children with disabilities receive services including:
- Early intervention
- Special education
- Related educational and behavioral services
The law is divided into Part C for infancy through age two and Part B for children ages three through 21 years. Section B ensures that children with developmental delays including autism and Asperger's syndrome receive a "free appropriate public education." An Individual Education Plan (IEP) is an important part of the child's education.
Individual Education Plans are catered to the student's specific needs. While a student with Asperger's may not have cognitive delays, his learning style may differ from the average student's learning style.
U.S. Department of Education
The U.S. Department of Education offers information for parents who are concerned about school special education legal rights for Aspergers. The Disability Discrimination section contains the latest developments in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as well as civil rights issues including:
- Overview of the laws
- Protecting students with disabilities
- Disability discrimination resources
- Questions and answer section
Included in the current regulations are Section 504 and Title II of the ADA.
Section 504 has been developed to end discrimination against individuals based on disabilities. In academic settings, students with disabilities are guaranteed an education in a mainstream setting using the necessary support to achieve success unless the student demonstrates that learning in a regular educational environment cannot be achieved. The law outlines:
- Evaluation procedures
- Tests and evaluation materials
Procedural safeguards is a part of Section 504 that parents of children with AS should become familiar with. Parents should be informed each time their child is evaluated and they should have access to their child's records. This section includes a right for the parents to participate in review procedures and hearings with representation by counsel.
- Case examples
- Organizations and resources
- Recommended reading
Ask the Advocate
Ask the Advocate is a service provided by Wrightslaw that helps parents resolve issues with educational entities. Pat Howley answers questions sent in by parents and professionals. She offers trainings for educators and parents who want to ensure that students receive the best education possible.
Families concerned about school special education rights for Aspergers issues can benefit from taking a proactive approach to meeting their students' needs in educational settings.
National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY) offers information about:
- Early intervention for ages 0 to 3 years
- Education for children ages 3 to 22
Information is available in English and Spanish and parents can search the site for information specific to their state using the State Specific Information page.
Autism Speaks School Community Toolkit
The Autism Speaks School Community Tool Kit offers support for school administrators, instructors and parents. Though not a curriculum, the kit is a valuable tool for creating an environment for students with autism that is conducive to learning.
Creating a safe learning environment that meets the needs of each student is challenging, and in cases of autism some of the problems can be very difficult. This is reflected in a teacher's decision to vote a kindergarten student with Aspergers out of class. The fundamental problem is a lack of empathy and understanding.
High functioning students often do not appear to have a disability and it is necessary to teach instructors about the specific issues students on the spectrum face. Education laws concerning students on the autism spectrum help to ensure that students receive instruction. Part of this may involve teaching educators about the autism spectrum of disorders.