Learning Leader

School Tips for Families of Children with ASD

As National Autism Awareness Month comes to an end, our clinicians at CLI's Center for Autism and Related Conditions would like to share some tips with parents and families about school supports for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

- Public preschool programs for children with special needs (PPCD) can often provide high quality support and services for young children with ASD or other developmental issues. You can initiate this evaluation as a parent by writing a letter to your child’s local elementary school requesting an evaluation if they are three years of age or older, regardless of a formal diagnosis. It is important to submit the request to the school in writing.

- Even if your child is receiving speech therapy and occupational therapy in school this does not replace the need for private therapy. Talk to your child’s pediatrician about a referral for a local therapy provider if needed.

- If your child is found eligible for special education support or services in the public school setting under the designation of autism, ask your child’s school about the Autism Supplement for Educational Services. This supplement may be reviewed quickly in an ARD meeting and potentially missed by parents as they receive a large amount of information from school professionals and staff. Take the time to learn about this supplement before your child’s ARD meeting and don’t hesitate to tell the ARD committee your child would benefit from the services.

- If you don’t agree with your child’s Individualized Educational Plan (IEP), you don’t have to sign it. You have 10 days from the initial ARD meeting to return for another meeting to address the issue(s) in question.

- The majority of “behavior issues” at school need to be addressed by your child’s school. The school should be able to bring in a school psychologist and/or a behavioral specialist to assist with a behavior plan and identify the triggers and consequences for your child’s more challenging behaviors at school. If a child displays challenging behaviors in class they may be inadvertently “rewarded” for it by being allowed to leave the classroom or get out of a non-preferred task. As a result, those negative behaviors are likely being reinforced and and the child is encouraged to continue to “act out.” The school may send a note home to keep parents informed about what is happening, but the school should work with your child and any challenging behaviors during the school day.

- If you need guidance with special education questions / issues, you can contact SPEDTex.org (1-855-SPED-TEX). There is no charge for this service.

Remember, no two children have the same needs, challenges and/or behaviors related to their underlying Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis. Try not to compare children with the same diagnosis as each child is truly unique and that is a great thing!

The UT Physicians Pediatric Center for Autism and Related Conditions is part of the Dan L Duncan Children’s Neurodevelopmental Program at the Children’s Learning Institute (CLI), housed within the McGovern Medical School at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.



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