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The goal of autism education is to help with the difficult symptoms of the disorder while improving the child's ability to talk, interact, play, and care for his or her needs. As soon as a child's disability has been identified, education should begin. Public schools in every state are required by law to provide appropriate education for school-age children with autism.

The Importance of Autism Education

Early and intensive autism education can help children grow and learn new skills. The goal of this education is to help with the difficult symptoms of autism in a child and to improve the child's skills that help him or her talk, interact, play, learn, and care for his or her needs.
 

Where to Find Education for Those With Autism

For every child eligible for special programs, each state guarantees special education and related services. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federally mandated program that assures a free and appropriate public education for children with diagnosed learning deficits. Usually, children are placed in public schools, and the school district pays for all necessary services. These will include, as needed, services provided by the following:
 
  • Speech therapists
  • Occupational therapists
  • School psychologists
  • Social workers
  • School nurses
  • Aides.
 
By law, the public schools must prepare and carry out a set of instruction goals or specific skills for every child in a special education program. The list of skills is known as the child's Individualized Education Program (IEP). The IEP is an agreement between the school and the family on the child's goals. When your child's IEP is developed, you will be asked to attend the meeting. Several people will be at this meeting, including a special education teacher, a representative of the public schools who is knowledgeable about the program, other individuals invited by the school or by you (you may want to bring a relative, a child care provider, or a supportive close friend who knows your child well). Parents play an important part in creating the program, as they know their child best. Once your child's IEP is developed, a meeting is scheduled once a year to review your child's progress and to make any alterations to reflect his or her changing needs.
 
If your child is under three years of age, he or she should be eligible for an early intervention program; this program is available in every state. Each state decides which agency will be the lead in the early intervention program. These services are provided by workers qualified to care for toddlers with disabilities and are usually in the child's home or a place familiar to the child. The services provided are written into an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) that is reviewed at least once every six months. The plan will describe services that will be provided to the child, but will also describe services for parents to help them in daily activities with their child and for siblings to help them adjust to having a brother or sister with an autism spectrum disorder.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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