Are you concerned that your young child may have autism even though you have you been told by special education personnel that he or she doesn’t? Would you like to know 3 of the lies told by many special education personnel about this disorder? Would you also like to learn advocacy strategies to overcome these lies? This article will address 3 of the most common lies told to parents about autism!
Lie 1: Your child does not have autism, they are emotionally disturbed! This is the most common lie that I see as an educational advocate. Most children with autism do have emotional and behavioral difficulty, but this is caused by the disorder. To truly be emotionally disturbed, the child cannot have any other disability causing the behavioral difficulty; which of course is not true in this case.
The reason that this is important is because if a child has autism, they will probably need extensive related and special education services, to benefit from their education. If the school district can convince you that your child does not have autism but is emotionally disturbed, they can try and deny all of the educational, services that your child needs.
You can advocate for your child by having them tested privately, with a psychologist specifically trained in this area. Bring these results to the school district and ask that your child be found eligible for special education under the category of autism; not emotionally disturbed (if the evaluation shows that this is true).
Lie 2: Your child does not have autism because they do not have the repetitive behavior that is a symptom of autism. I hear this a lot too, especially for children that have been diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) or Aspergers Syndrome. Many of these children do not have the typical features associated with this disorder. Over the years I have had many special education personnel tell me that a certain child did not have a certain disability; without testing them. The child needs to be given an autism rating scale by a qualified professional.
The one that I recommend is the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS). It is easy to fill out and to come up with a score. The higher the score is the greater chance that the child has the disorder.
There is also an Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) that can be given again by a qualified trained professional. Insist that your child receive an Autism Rating Scale (CARS), or the ADOS.
Lie 3: Okay so your child has autism; but they are not eligible for special education services because the autism does not affect their education.
The federal law governing special education is IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act). In 2004 the act was reauthorized, and the language stating that the child’s disability must negatively affect the child’s education, was taken out. It now states that for a child to be eligible for special education services, they must have a disability and have educational needs. No mention of disability negatively affecting the child’s education.
You should ask the special education personnel, to please show you in Federal Law where it states that special education eligibility, depends on the child’s disability negatively affecting their education. It does not exist and they will not be able to show you. As an advocacy technique keep repeating that it is your opinion that your child has autism and has educational needs. This is all that is required for a child to be found eligible.